Lawyers and human rights campaigners have launched the Platform for the Protection of Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) in Senegal to provide a secure means of exposing wrongdoing on the continent. It will provide guidance from legal experts, secure submission of information and a hotline for potential informants.
The initiative is the brainchild of three human rights advocates: Baltasar Garzon, Spanish lawyer – who defended Julian Assange of whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks – along with William Bourdon, French lawyer who worked on the LuxLeaks case, and Alioune Tine, a Senegalese human rights advocate.
The continuous poor ranking of African nations such as Somalia, South Sudan, Libya and Guinea-Bissau in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index is believed to be responsible for the initiative
The initiators said the organisation was hoping to give African citizens – who are better informed about what their leaders are up to, the right opportunity to report corruption and rights abuses.
Bourdon, president of PPLAAF, said “We have decided to protect whistleblowers here in Africa; the continent where they are least protected and take greater risks.”
Tine, who heads Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa operations, said whistleblowers risk “prison, even death” to protect the public good on the continent, describing them as “modern-day heroes”.
PPLAAF cited the cases of Ethiopian Abdullahi Hussein, who exposed atrocities committed by the military, and Jean-Jacques Lumumba, a Congolese banker who revealed his employer was hiding transactions of stolen government funds, as inspirations.
Both men faced death threats and intimidation, and Hussein was forced to seek asylum in Sweden after fleeing with footage of killings and rapes in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region.
The organisation’s researchers say just seven African countries have laws to protect whistleblowers, while senior government officials frequently make the headlines by siphoning off funds for personal gain.