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West Africa: Whistleblowers still in danger

A new PPLAAF report reveals insufficient legal protection for whistleblowers in the region and the major risks they face. 

(Dakar, 5 February 2024): In West Africa, whistleblowers remain insufficiently protected and are particularly vulnerable despite their vital role in combating financial crime, stated the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) today. In a report jointly published with OCWAR-M, PPLAAF provides an overview of the current legal framework in the region and calls on authorities to adopt concrete protection mechanisms.

This report compiles findings from 14 studies on whistleblower protection conducted in 13 countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Mauritania. This work was made possible with the support of the European Union under the OCWAR-M project, aimed at combating financial crime in West Africa.

The report highlights several significant concerns, notably the absence of dedicated laws for whistleblower protection in most countries of the region, thus exposing them to increased risks. Only three of the fourteen countries examined currently have specific whistleblower protection laws, in some countries with laws, enforcement is lacking. For a whistleblower law to be effective, it should clearly define the whistleblower’s status and reporting procedures, ensure protection against retaliation and prosecution, punish perpetrators of retaliation, and provide specific safety measures. However, adequate protection also requires laws against financial crimes and laws guaranteeing freedom of expression and access to information. Specific whistleblower legislation alone is not enough without these complementary measures. 

Although all states in the region have a legal framework for combating financial crime, the report found that applying these laws varies significantly, which may deter whistleblowers from disclosing sensitive information. Furthermore, threats to press freedom hinder journalistic investigations and the dissemination of information. The lack of holistic legislation in West Africa, therefore, represents a significant threat to whistleblower protection.

“The current situation of whistleblowers in West Africa is alarming. Yet, their role in exposing financial crime is essential for the stability and prosperity of the region,” said Jimmy Kandé, Director of PPLAAF for West and Francophone Africa. “We urge governments, regional organisations, and donors to take urgent action to strengthen whistleblower protection and promote transparency.”

Understanding the legislative gaps in the region allows for the establishment of robust legal frameworks to ensure protection and enhance whistleblowers’ effectiveness. This will subsequently encourage more whistleblowers to come forward. Accordingly, the report recommends various collaborative measures to remedy these gaps, to combat financial crime, and to protect whistleblowers. 

PPLAAF calls on ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania, ECOWAS, the African Union, the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the private sector to take immediate measures to improve whistleblower protection and foster regional transparency. These measures include adopting specific whistleblower protection laws, revising legislation on financial offences, enhancing existing protection mechanisms, and empowering authorities. 

Regionally, capacity-building initiatives are necessary, as well as the integration of clauses into regional agreements to reinforce whistleblower protection. Furthermore, donors must incorporate whistleblower protection measures into their lending and technical assistance programs and the private sector must establish internal reporting mechanisms and employee protection measures.

PPLAAF is a non-governmental organisation established in 2017 to protect whistleblowers, as well as to advocate and engage in strategic litigation on their behalf when their revelations deal with the general interests of African citizens.

For more information about PPLAAF, please visit:
For more information about the report, please contact:

Jimmy Kandé

Director West and Francophone Africa

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