Things like corruption, bribery and anti-competition practices occur in every country all over the world. Recent scandals here in Singapore have shown a light on how this type of wrongdoing occurs and how the authorities detect and prosecute the activities. The truth is, that in many of these situations, the government needs a whistleblower to come forward in order to uncover the full scope of the corruption or, in some cases, the crimes would not come to light at all if it were not for the whistleblower.
This can pose a problem for the authorities when it comes to detecting and prosecuting corrupt acts in both the private and the public sector. It can often be the case that a person may be hesitant to come forward because they fear that the information that they provide could be used against them. If the information that they provide authorities also includes admissions of crimes that they committed or corrupt acts that they were involved in, this could mean jail time for the informant. This issue would obviously make some individuals reluctant to come forward if they feel that they might compromise their own liberty.
With this being the case, it seems that the government may want to consider policies that would make whistleblowers less fearful of the consequences that could accompany their cooperation in corruption investigations. However, this begs some serious questions in regard to law, punishment and to what extent it is appropriate to allow cooperation to be a mitigating factor concerning a case that involves an informant.
Some nations allow for immunity in cases where a whistleblower helps to uncover a crime and others may have legal guidelines that allow for it to be a mitigating factor if they assist the government in their investigation. The problem lies in the fact that not every criminal or corruption case involving a whistleblower is the same. The law needs to account for things like the seriousness of the crime, the informant’s level of culpability and to what level they aided the investigation. This means that a standard, across the board policy is an inappropriate solution.
Laws that assure whistleblowers that they will have some level of protection and that their assistance will be a factor in their sentencing and punishment are effective when it comes to combating and preventing corruption. While a blanket policy that offers immunity may not be the best solution, there could be laws that clearly define informing as a mitigating factor and an outline of how this should be administered by the courts. A policy that provides assurance to potential informants while also leaving some discretion to the judge would not only encourage whistle blowers to come forward, but it would also maintain the integrity of the justice system while allowing them to work with those who have done wrong.