Kawana tables whistleblowers’ protection bill

Windhoek-Government, through the Ministry of Justice, will establish a whistleblower protection office, which would consist of a commissioner, deputy commissioners and other staff members of the office in line with the Whistleblower Protection Bill.

The commissioner and deputy commissioner will be appointed by the President with the approval of the National Assembly.

This was revealed by the Minister of Justice, Dr Albert Kawana, when he tabled the Bill in the National Assembly last Thursday.

He explained, "It is important senior staff members who are tasked with such important national responsibility must enjoy the confidence of both the executive and the legislature."

He noted that such staff members must be of the highest integrity and professionalism, who are not subject to external influences, some of which might be based on purely personal and political agenda.

He added that staff members are, inter alia, tasked with the investigation of disclosures of improper conduct and the determination of appropriate action to be taken, investigation of complaints of detrimental action and where appropriate reference of complaints to the tribunal established under this Bill for remedial action.

The staff will also appear before the tribunal, initiate and lay criminal charges against any person who has committed a criminal offence under the Act once it is passed into law, issuing temporary prohibition notices and applying for confirmation of such notices before the tribunal and establishing programmes to educate the public.

The justice minister further informed the august house that he (Kawana) would submit a list of names of persons of good character and of high integrity, who possess qualifications and experience as may be prescribed, to the National Assembly.

The NA will then, through a resolution, approve the names and then the NA, through the Speaker, will submit the names to the President for appointment, he added.

"This Bill is one of the most important to the Namibian nation once it is passed into law. It will go a long way to address the concerns of some of our citizens, especially lack of legislation to protect whistleblowers both in the public and private sectors in our country," Kawana stressed.

Once it is passed into a law, the Bill will also make provisions of the establishment of a Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee, which would consist of the Permanent Secretary (PS) of Justice, who is the chairperson, PS of the Office of the Prime Minister, and the Ombudsman.

It (Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee) will further consist of the Director-General (DG) of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Inspector-General of the Namibian Police Force, DG of the Namibia Central Intelligence Service, the Environmental Commissioner, one person appointed by the Minister Kawana from a list of persons nominated by registered employers' organisation and another person from a list of persons nominated by registered trade unions.

He said the functions and powers of the committee include making recommendations to the minister regarding policy matters, including amendments to the legislation, making of regulations and issuing of guidelines, while advising the minister on the formulation of whistleblower protection policies in accordance with the current law and international best practices.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia