Tunisia- “Whistleblowers” demand justice and denounce policy of abuse
Location: Tunis – Tunisia
Source: A24 in Tunisia
Restrictions: A24 subscribers
Whistleblowers held on Tuesday a press conference at the headquarters of the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists in Tunis, entitled “Where do whistleblowers go?”
They demanded immediate return to their previous jobs and settlement of their professional and financial matters, denouncing policy of abuse.
They also called on judiciary to review files of those suspected of corruption and hold the corrupt accountable.
Ashraf bin Aisha, employee of Tunisian National Railways Company, told A24 he submitted more than 40 corruption case files on the company he works in, that involve many forms of corruption and embezzlement, but to no avail. He said he was expelled and a file on him was fabricated to legitimize his dismissal.
Other whistleblowers of corruption in national institutions they work in, told A24 they should be protected as witnesses according to Tunisian law, stating the need to fight against corruption, not against anti-corruption.
They noted the need to reopen the National Anti-Corruption Commission for corruption cases, with amendments to some of its laws that concern protection of whistleblowers.
– Soundbite (Ashraf bin Aisha – Former Tunisian National Railways Company employee and whistleblower):
“I have submitted nearly 40 case files related to administrative and financial corruption, including forged academic certificates approved for professional promotions, files on manipulating retirement age by changing active and inactive professional plans, files on contracting with transferees through bad checks, files on tampering with compensation of those affected by train accidents, files on receipts for fuel cards charged to the company, including for people living outside of Tunisia, as well as files on administrative vehicles. Everything is documented and proven. My colleague Issam al-Din Al-Fetati and I were recently dismissed by a political decision, after which a file was fabricated in order to legitimize our dismissal. Our case is being put before the economic and financial judicial pole, specifically in investigation 15, 37 and 38. We are supposed to be protected as witnesses of the court, but we are being blatantly abused instead.”
– Soundbite (Mohammed Haitham al-Latif – Diplomat, former Ministry of Foreign Affairs employee and whistleblower)
“As public officials, we are obligated to inform Public Prosecution and administration of all charges and suspicions we are in doubt of based on Chapter 29 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. I performed this role in several stages, as I witnessed several financial, consular and administrative violations, that escalated until it reached the limit, when talked involved special data classified according to the penal code as data that concern the safety of the state. However, no disciplinary action was taken after I submitted my notification, there was administrative correspondence with attempt to place the charges on me. When I persisted in my reporting, they called me and told me to let the matter go and choose another embassy to work for. When I refused, I was interrogated and then returned to Tunisia without a disciplinary board session. I could not renew my passport, and I was suspended without any charge. When I tried to file the case, I was asked for a medical examination and denied a disciplinary board session three times. After a while I realized something strange; I was expelled two years after my resignation. There is official solidarity in the protection of the corrupt. We want to get this matter back on track, in order to fight against corruption, not against anti-corruption.”
– Soundbite (Bashir Al-Obeidi – Secretary General of The Tunisian Human Rights League):
“An urgent request for the whistleblowers, is to protect them first, then take into consideration their human rights, in terms of being threatened and unsafe. Therefore, protecting them and reconsidering decisions taken against them in injustice and unfairness, especially those in prison and abroad who were arbitrarily expelled.”