Activists call for whistleblower protection amid ongoing corruption expose

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Activists call for whistleblower protection amid ongoing corruption expose
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Activists have called upon government, particularly the office of the Inspectorate General of Government (IGG), to prioritize the protection of whistleblowers who expose corrupt officials in Uganda.

During the unveiling of the Uganda Parliament exhibition report, activists highlighted the alarming risks faced by whistleblowers who expose corruption.

These emphasized that individuals who come forward with information about corruption are often subjected to harassment and threats which puts their lives at risk.

"Some of the recommendations we have seen within the report is the protection of whistleblowers, which is really very critical because the people that have come up to expose some of the information have been harassed or been threatened," said Micheal Katagaya, the team leader of Evidence and Methods Lab.

Katagaya said that all ideas and  issues raised by citizens around parliament have been compiled in the report.

"The report is focused on those issues that the citizens raised around parliament."

He  emphasized that all the information in the report is accurate, adding that  they went ahead and  invited individuals accused to present their side of the story, but in many cases, they have failed to appear.

"We ensured that the information we have is accurate based on verifiable information that has been posted by the citizens. Agora tried to ensure that the information they posted is actually verifiable and they have called upon the  people that have been accused to come and give their side of the story, and in many cases, they have failed to actually be able to either turn up or be able to provide any reasonable information to counter their mission that has been provided."

Munira Ali, the spokesperson for the Inspector General of Government (IGG), stated during the report launch that one of the challenges they encounter is when whistleblowers, after reporting their complaints, subsequently expose them through the media, thereby making it difficult for the IGG to protect them.

"One of the challenges that we have is that, when people come to report complaints to the IGG office, they take the same complaint and actually go and expose it maybe through the media, or even back to the people who they have reported. And that makes it so difficult for us to even protect them as required. The  Whistleblowers Act is supposed to protect what we call whistleblowers, but that can only be done if when they come to us. They shouldn't  even tell anybody that they have come because  government does not tell anybody who reported a case. However,  before you know it, the actual complaint is with a meteor and then somebody comes back and complains that they have been victimised at the office,"Munira said.

She emphasized to whistleblowers that when they report a complaint to the IGG, they also have a responsibility to maintain confidentiality.

"You don't go out to expose yourself, even when you want to tell the media that you have recorded, don't expose your identity."

Ali encouraged  people to bring to them the information.

"We cannot be everywhere. We don't know what is happening everywhere and yet people have information. We need them to come to us give us this information that can help us either to investigate or to come in and and find a way of handling some of the matters because like I mentioned, the structure of government does investigations for prosecutions, but we also do investigations for making sure that systems in government are working."

The report

The report compiled by the Evidence and Methods Lab(EML), Agora and Action Aid International following  a  social media campaign led by Jim Spire Ssentongo,Godwin Toko and Agatha Atuhaire dubbed  Uganda Parliament Exhibition indicates that Ugandans call for the resignation of some members of parliament who involved themselves in corruption.

By analysing tweets using the hashtag (#UgandaParliamentExhbition), the report shows that it is evident that there was a significant outcry against corruption and wastage of public funds with in Uganda's Parliament.

The report also pushes for reforms within the parliamentary system to ensure that ethical standards are upheld and that the interests of the public are prioritised over personal gain.

The report reveals that the public discourse called for enhancing public engagement and participation in decision making.

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