Swedish local politicians champion whistleblowers

Swedish local politicians champion whistleblowers
Helsingborg. File: LawPrieR/Flickr
Town hall staff in Helsingborg will soon have a clear channel to report suspected corruption, and bypass any boss who may be implicated in any potentially underhand activities.

The local newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad reported on Thursday that employees of the municipality had been told to "be quiet" when bringing up their concerns about how the west-coast town's market square traders were behaving.

"If you can't go to your boss, or if it's the boss doing things, there should be another way," said Bengt Larsen, deputy chair of Helsingborg's city planning commission.  

On paper, the Swedish constitution protects all public employees' right to whistleblow. It is also illegal for a public employer to try to find out who leaked the information. And Swedish journalists have the legal right to protect the identity of their sources.

While Sweden regularly ends up among the least corrupt nations in the annual tally by Transparency International, several high-profile cases involving municipal employees have been brought to light in recent years. One guilty verdict and two municipal honchos forced to resign was the result of a corruption probe into the construction of Friends Arena in Solna, near Stockholm. While, also on the west coast, Gothenburg politician became embroiled in a bribery scandal in the late noughties.

Gothenburg, now followed by Helsingborg,  was the first to create a specific whistleblower channel for its employees following the turmoil. 

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