Whistleblower rewards essential to combating environmental crime

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World-renowned law professor Masaki Iwasaki argues in a recent article in a prestigious magazine that countries should “reward whistleblowers who expose environmental crimes.” Nature.

“Whistleblowers are valuable guardians of our natural environment and complement law enforcement agencies,” Professor Iwasaki writes. “National authorities should seriously consider legal policies that not only ensure their protection, but also positively reward their contributions.”

“Environmental crimes, including the illegal logging and trafficking of timber, minerals, animals and fish, and the illegal dumping of chemicals, currently constitute the fourth largest crime sector in the world and are growing at a rate of two to three times .It is increasing its influence on the global economy,” Iwasaki wrote.

However, Iwasaki points out that environmental crimes are extremely difficult to detect. He added that it is even more difficult to impose sanctions and penalties on those who commit environmental crimes, as it is difficult to prove causation and harm.

Therefore, Professor Iwasaki argues, “unless authorities improve their investigative, prosecution, and court procedural capabilities, deterrence is unlikely to improve significantly.”

Advocates like Iwasaki argue that whistleblower reward laws are the solution to this problem. The US whistleblower reward program, widely considered a model of good practice, has reversed the relationship between the risks associated with whistleblowing and encouraged hundreds of thousands of whistleblowers with lucrative information to come forward. . Whistleblower reward programs in the United States have totaled over $50 billion under the False Claims Act (since 1986), over $6.6 billion under the IRS program (since 2006), and the CFTC Whistleblower Program (since 2012). , and more than $6.2 billion under legal regulations. SEC Whistleblower Program (since 2012).

On both sides of the aisle, these law enforcement leaders recognize that whistleblowers are the most powerful tool in the fight against fraud and corruption.

The United States has several provisions that reward environmental whistleblowers, including the Vessel Pollution Control Act and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s temporary bounty.

However, Professor Iwasaki says: This includes expanding eligibility for incentives to cover cases not currently included, such as reporting vehicle emissions violations under the Clean Air Act and catching illegal discharges into waterways under the Clean Water Act. There is a possibility that ”

“Environmental governance bodies and law enforcement agencies cannot adequately combat environmental crimes without mobilizing whistleblowers. Moreover, best-practice whistleblower programs that guarantee anonymity and offer substantial financial incentives Without it, you can’t mobilize whistleblowers,” says Stephen M. Cohn, a prominent whistleblower attorney at Cohn Cohn & Colapinto.

“Whistleblowers often face a variety of retaliation from organizations, including termination and harassment. Many countries have whistleblower protection laws to protect whistleblowers from such retaliation. However, these legal protections are often insufficient,” says Iwasaki.

The National Whistleblower Center has led the campaign to adopt best-practice whistleblower reward programs to combat environmental crimes. “The climate is too fragile and environmental crimes are escalating too quickly to not encourage environmental whistleblowers,” said Shiri Nelson, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center. Ta. We need their information, and they need the protection of anonymity and compensation. ”

References:

Fish and Wildlife Service should use whistleblower awards to combat wildlife crime

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