Peru Congress approves legislation to protect whistle blowers

Peru’s Congress approved Thursday legislation that is aimed at protecting whistle blowers who report corruption in government agencies from being fired or subjected to other reprisals, state news agency Andina reported.

“Independent of their current position [the individuals] cannot be dismissed, laid off, or removed from their position as a result of the denunciation,” the legislation reportedly reads.

Civil servants who submit reports of corruption will also be compensated if the accusation is verified. However those who submit false claims will be disciplined.

The National Comptroller General’s office will be in charge of receiving and evaluating the accusations.

“It is definitely an important step for eradicating corruption in public institutions,” the head of the Anti-corruption Commission in Congress, Rosa Florían, said. “We believe that civil servants will be able to report [cases of corruption] without worry and uncover illicit acts in institutions.”

“It is going to protect their identity,” she said. “The first step will be for [the report] to go through the Comptroller who will corroborate and evaluate the accusations, while the labor ministry will verify that the civil servant is not being mistreated in their work. That is very important so the employees are not afraid of being let go.”

The legislation was approved with 58 votes in favour, none against and three absentees.

Approval of the legislation comes as high ranking officials in President Alan García’s ruling Aprista party are coming under pressure over corruption allegations.

Congressman Jorge del Castillo decided in early May to temporarily leave his position as party secretary general amid allegations implicating him in an oil concession kickback scandal that was revealed two years ago on the front pages of Peru’s tabloids.

At the time, Del Castillo was García’s Prime Minister and Cabinet Chief. He was forced to resign from that position in October 2008 during a cabinet shuffle.

Meanwhile, Omar Quesada, who is APRA’s Institutional Secretary General, has been implicated in a shady land deal in the government branch that he used to run, the Agency of Formalization of Informal Property (Cofopri).

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