MK Kol to Peres: Reward whistleblowers

Law to Encourage Integrity, rarely used, allows presidents to present certificate of commendation to public workers who report corruption.

February 4, 2014 17:57
2 minute read.
Yesh Atid MK Adi Kol.

Yesh Atid MK Adi Kol 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Yesh Atid)

President Shimon Peres must implement the law rewarding whistleblowers, Knesset Public Petitions Committee chairwoman Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) wrote in a letter to the president Tuesday.

Kol quoted former president Ezer Weizman as saying he won't "give a medal to informers," and wrote that since his term, in the 1990s, the law has not been implemented.

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The law in question, called the Law to Encourage Integrity, was passed in 1992 and allows presidents to present a certificate of commendation to public workers who reported corruption. The law also states that the worker's place of employment must investigate the corruption, release a written report on it and present the whistleblower with a certificate.

"Not implementing the law shows a warped norm in Israel when it comes to whistleblowers, in which they're treated like informers instead of rewarded and praised," Kol wrote. "This disrespects the Knesset and is a terrible statement about the establishment's treatment of those who expose corruption." The Knesset Public Petitions Committee discussed the on Tuesday.

"We cannot govern properly without people who are willing to report when things are going wrong," Kol lamented. "Even though the law was passed in 1992 not one certificate was given to a whistleblower and we need to figure out why." Kol added that in the current situation, whistleblowers are suspended from work and rejected by society.

"The Israeli public wants whistleblowers to be recognized. We need to adopt the American law that gives them a monetary reward. Certificates are great, but money is even better," MK Miki Rosenthal (Labor) said, promising to propose a bill to that effect.

Eldad Yaniv, a former political adviser and current columnist, pointed out that "Weizman knew what he was talking about when he called these people 'informers,' since he was thrown out of office for illegally accepting funds. We couldn't have expected Moshe Katsav [who left office because of rape convictions] to give this kind of award." Several whistleblowers working in municipalities attended the meeting and complained that their employers ostracized them.

"When Peres wants to give prizes and host ceremonies, he just does it. He doesn't wait for new rules or regulations. We need to take advantage of the time remaining in Peres' term to convince him to give out the certificates," Yaniv added.

Michal Tsuk, an attorney in the President's Office said "the president is in favor of the law and its goals. We are at the end of the chain, and if we receive recommendations according to law, we will make an effort to give out the certificates before the end of his term." Aya Dvir, a lawyer in the Justice Ministry, said the ministry is working on a bill granting legal aid to whistleblowers.

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