Social Pressure Dampens the Success of Ghana’s Whistleblower Law

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A farmer in Ghana admits that for years he concealed the corruption of a local public officer who works in his region of Ghana. The farmer is aware of the 2006 Ghana Whistleblower Act and knows that every Ghanaian has a civic duty to report illegal activity and corruption. However, he insists that the benefit of whistleblowing is far outweighed by the social pressures of being an outcast and having his family's image tarnished. Ghanaians who blow the whistle on corruption are labeled "okro mouth" and often attacked physically and verbally.

Ghana's 2006 Whistleblower Act

Ghana's whistleblower act was intended to be an anticorruption device to empower citizens to expose fraud, exploitation and other bad practices by both the public and private sectors. The law identifies the following types of improprieties that can be disclosed by a whistleblower:

  • Economic crimes
  • Miscarriages of justice
  • Environmental destruction
  • Violation of a law or failure to obey a law
  • Government waste
  • Endangerment of an individual or the public

The law lists a variety of people to whom reports of impropriety may be made. For example, employers, police officers, members of parliament, tribal chiefs and other government officials may receive complaints of corruption.

Amendment to encourage additional whistleblowing

Recently, Ghana's cabinet approved an amendment to the whistleblower act to provide additional protection to private citizens who report crimes and corruption to security services. In particular, the amendment protects private citizens from retaliation and vilification by managers. The new measures also created a fund to pay rewards to citizens disclosing improprieties.

The social pressure obstacle

The social pressure exerted against those who reveal corrupt practices is so great that Ghanaians are reluctant to avail themselves of the protections of the law. Citizens refuse to disclose information even though a tipster’s identity is officially concealed, because they believe that other village folks can expose them through spiritual means.

Posted in Graft and Corruption | Tagged whistleblowing overseas