Skip Navigation
Denmark

Anonymous Whistleblower Portals for Justice System Employees (DK0070)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Denmark Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle:

Status:

Institutions

Lead Institution: The Danish Ministry of Justice

Support Institution(s): The unit responsible for the various whistle-blower schemes depends on the authority. - The Danish Ministry of Justice: The Digitisation Unit of the Concern - The State Prosecutor: The Danish Attorney General, the Data Pro-tection Unit - The Police: National Police of Denmark, Inspections and Controls Unit - The Danish Security and Intelligence Service: Legal Section - The prison service: The Management and Communication of the Concern – from the 1st of January 2020 The Legal Section of the Con-cern

Policy Areas

Anti Corruption and Integrity, Justice, Open Justice, Policing & Corrections, Whistleblower Protections

IRM Review

IRM Report: Denmark Results Report 2019-2022, Denmark Design Report 2019-2021

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Yes

Ambition (see definition): High

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

What is the social problem that the commitment will address?
A number of cases, such as the Tibet case, have led to considerations of what tools could be deployed to help bring to light information about criticisable situations within the authorities so they can be dealt with in an appropriate manner. Setting up whistle-blower schemes within the sphere of the Danish Ministry of Justice will increase the likelihood that information of this nature will be made public, thus contributing to-wards a culture of openness.

What does the commitment entail?
The commitment involves setting up whistle-blower schemes in the prosecutions service, the police, the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET), the prison service and the Ministry of Justice depart-ment. Employees of the authorities involved can use the schemes. The scheme can also be used by partners with whom the authorities are engaged in a more ongoing or formalised collaboration, and their employees. Information can be reported about serious issues that are of importance to how the authorities perform their tasks. As a rule, in-formation can be reported via an electronic whistle-blower portal, where it will also be possible to communicate with whistle-blowers who do not wish to reveal their identity.

How will the commitment contrib-ute towards solving the social problem?
The establishment of whistle-blower schemes, in which information can be reported without revealing your identity and where the authori-ties are also able to communicate with anonymous whistle-blowers to shed further light on the case, will make it more likely that employees or partners will express their concern about criticisable conduct within the authorities, without fearing negative consequences with regard to their employment. This will make it more likely that errors and omis-sions by the authorities will be discovered, thus raising standards in the services that the authorities provide.

Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
The whistle-blower schemes will make it more likely that employees and partners can report information about criticisable situations within the authorities, thus contributing to a culture characterised by trans-parency and openness. The commitment contributes towards increased public responsibility. Setting up the whistle-blower schemes will open a route whereby in-formation about criticisable situations within the authorities can be re-ported. It will increase the likelihood that errors and omissions will be discovered, thus raising standards in the services provided by the au-thorities.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

7. Whistleblower schemes within the Danish Ministry of Justice

Main Objective

"The commitment involves setting up whistleblower schemes in the prosecutions service, the police, the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET), the prison service and the Ministry of Justice department. Employees of the authorities involved can use the schemes. The scheme can also be used by partners with whom the authorities are engaged in a more ongoing or formalised collaboration, and their employees. Information can be reported about serious issues that are of importance to how the authorities perform their tasks. As a rule, information can be reported via an electronic whistleblower portal, where it will also be possible to communicate with whistleblowers who do not wish to reveal their identity." [26]

Milestones

  • Ongoing reporting with regard to the whistleblower schemes within the sphere of the Danish Ministry of Justice

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Denmark's action plan at https://digst.dk/media/21659/ogp-nap-2019-2021-english.pdf, pp. 23-25.

IRM Design Report Assessment

Verifiable:

Yes

Relevant:

Access to Information, Public Accountability

Potential impact:

Moderate

Commitment Analysis
This commitment seeks to introduce whistleblower protection mechanisms within the sphere of the Danish Ministry of Justice. The commitment's objectives include protecting employees against negative consequences when raising legitimate concerns of mismanagement within the targeted authorities, through the use of anonymised reporting channels. Consequently, this is expected to lead to an increase in reporting of such cases and thus improve the services of public authorities. The commitment precedes EU's Directive on Whistleblowing, which entered into force on 16 December 2019 requiring all EU Member States, including Denmark, to transpose its provisions into their national legal and institutional systems by December 2021. [27] This will include mandatory whistleblower protection for private companies and public institutions, and will require employers to inform employees of the function and purpose of whistleblower mechanisms. [28] This commitment responds to a recommendation from the IRM Design Report for the 2017-2019 action plan. [29] However, it should be noted that this commitment in particular, only applies to authorities within the Ministry of Justice, and is not a general introduction of whistleblower schemes or legislation in Denmark, which is currently taking place outside the OGP framework.

The commitment is relevant to the OGP value of public accountability as it provides employees within the Ministry of Justice, including external parties, with anonymised channels to report on misconduct or corruption without facing any form of repercussion. Such channels will primarily be comprised of online portals within the responsible authorities that protect the identity of individuals who want to raise concerns. That agency will then undertake an initial analysis in accordance with the official guidelines and assess whether or not a case falls under the application of the whistleblower mechanism before an actual investigation can take place. [30] Furthermore, the commitment calls for annual reporting with regards to whistleblower schemes, which is relevant to the OGP value of access to information.

Prior to this commitment, whistleblower protection has only been mandatory in certain sectors, e.g. the financial sector. The introduction of whistleblower protection schemes (i.e. tangible systems and guidelines for whistleblowers to report abuse) within the sphere of the Ministry of Justice is a direct response to previous cases of misconduct within public law enforcement agencies. Most notably, the so-called 'Tibet case' in 2012 witnessed the obstruction of a citizen demonstration in front of Chinese officials based on illegitimate orders from the police. Despite knowing of such misconduct, many police officers were reluctant to report their observations to management until several years after the incident. [31] Additionally, Danish work culture is characterised by a high level of confidentiality and the principle of employees' duty of loyalty. However, employees in the public sector have had to undergo long court processes in cases where they have violated confidentiality for the sake of reporting unacceptable practice. [32]

The introduction of whistleblower schemes within the sphere of the Ministry of Justice is a noteworthy addition to the public work culture in Denmark. Developing a proper whistleblowing culture in the Ministry of Justice could help reduce cases of corruption while contributing to workers' legal safety and well-being. Danish civil society has welcomed the introduction of whistleblower schemes as a means to better ensure the safety and basic rights of employees through secure and anonymised investigation channels. There are concerns, however, around the lack of participation of employees in designing the schemes, as well as the extent to which potential investigations will be conducted by independent actors. [33] Furthermore, according to an interviewed civil society representative, the ambition of the commitment is limited when taking into consideration that Denmark is already required to implement the above-mentioned EU directive on whistleblower protection. The representative also emphasised that it is important to raise awareness of the whistleblowing schemes through dissemination efforts and seminars to illustrate their legitimacy as a tool for accountability. [34]

Based on the above-mentioned discussions on the implementation of whistleblower schemes, the IRM researcher recommends that the Ministry of Justice:

  • Give civil society access to annual reports and the opportunity to comment on them;
  • Undertake broader awareness-raising campaigns for employees with the purpose of ensuring constructive perceptions of whistleblower schemes.
[26] Danish Agency for Digitisation, "The Danish OGP National Action Plan 2019–2021," https://digst.dk/media/21659/ogp-nap-2019-2021-english.pdf
[27] Transparency International, A Vital Chance for Whistleblower Protection, https://www.transparency.org/en/blog/a-vital-chance-for-whistleblower-protection
[28] The Directive is applicable for companies with more than 50 staff members and municipalities with more than 10.000 inhabitants. Council of the European Union, "Bedre beskyttelse af whistleblowere: Nye EU-regler træder i kraft i 2021", https://www.consilium.europa.eu/da/press/press-releases/2019/10/07/better-protection-of-whistle-blowers-new-eu-wide-rules-to-kick-in-in-2021/
[29] Danish Agency for Digitisation, "The Danish OGP National Action Plan 2019–2021," https://digst.dk/media/21659/ogp-nap-2019-2021-english.pdf
[30] Ministry of Justice, "Fælles retningslinjer for whistleblowerordningerne på Justitsministeriets område, 3 August 2020.
[31] "Rigspolitichef Åbner Whistleblowerordning til betjenet efter Tibet sag", 15 June 2018, https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/politik/rigspolitichef-aabner-whistleblower-ordning-til-betjente-efter-tibet-sag
[33] Danish Association of Lawyers and Economists, "Whistleblowerordninger på vej i hele staten", https://www.djoefbladet.dk/artikler/2019/2/whistleblowerordninger-p-aa--vej-i-hele-staten.aspx
[34] Interview with Marina Buch Kristensen, Transparency International Denmark, 24 April 2020.

Commitments

Open Government Partnership