Safeguarding Whistleblowers: The German Whistleblower Protection Act (GWPA)

This publication is authored by and reflected the views and opinion of PT Integrity Indonesia. More information about PT Integrity Indonesia is available on

Recently, Germany enacted a new law, the German Whistleblower Protection Act (GWPA), aimed at protecting individuals who courageously report violations, corruption, or illegal activities within organizations. The inception of this law can be attributed to the mandate from the European Union, as Germany, being a member country, plays an important role in safeguarding whistleblowers.

A crucial aspect of the GWPA is providing robust protection to whistleblowers against retaliatory actions. The law establishes that individuals who report violations have the right to be shielded from dismissal, discrimination, forced transfers, or any other career obstacles that might result from their reporting. This assurance empowers whistleblowers to disclose violations with confidence, knowing their identities will be kept confidential unless they choose otherwise. 

As we explore the implications of GWPA, it's worth exploring how this legislation might inspire similar initiatives in other countries.

Unlike Germany, Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, therefore, is not directly bound by the same obligation. Nevertheless, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of comprehensive whistleblower protections in the country. Some Swiss cantons have taken steps to provide a certain degree of protection for whistleblowers.

For instance, the canton of Basel-Stadt has enacted laws aimed at safeguarding whistleblowers employed in public institutions. Additionally, cities like Bern, Winterthur, and Zurich have recently established anonymous reporting facilities. A notable development occurred in January 2022 when the canton of Geneva adopted a legal framework that permits reporting anonymity and ensures the confidentiality of the whistleblower's identity within territorial administration, parliament, judiciary, universities, public legal institutions, and municipal authorities.

Effective Mechanisms for Preventing Business Ethics Violations

To ensure ethical practices and prevent business ethics violations, companies, vendors, and supply chains must adopt effective measures in line with the GWPA. Some of the mechanisms that can be implemented to foster a culture of integrity and responsibility within organizations, include the following:

  1. Clear and Robust Code of Ethics

First and foremost, companies should establish clear and robust policies regarding their code of ethics. These policies need to be effectively communicated to all stakeholders through consistent socialization, whether through company newsletters, social media platforms, or training sessions. By making employees and partners aware of the ethical standards expected, the organization sets the groundwork for ethical behavior.

  1. Understanding Legal and Reputational Consequences

Companies must ensure that all individuals within the organization understand the potential legal and reputational consequences of engaging in harmful practices. This awareness instills a sense of responsibility and emphasizes the importance of acting ethically. Regular training sessions and workshops can be conducted to reinforce this understanding and keep employees informed about current ethical guidelines and regulations.

  1. Upholding Transparency and Accountability

Transparency and accountability should be core principles upheld at every stage of an organization's operations. Companies need to ensure that every process is carried out diligently and based on objective assessments. Internal auditors can play a crucial role in verifying compliance with established procedures and policies, providing an unbiased perspective on the organization's adherence to ethical guidelines.

  1. Implementing Rigorous Oversight Mechanisms

Companies should establish rigorous oversight mechanisms to prevent opportunities for violations and unethical practices. A clear division of responsibilities, segregation of duties, and an open reporting system should be integral to the organization's supervisory practices. This not only deters potential violations but also facilitates timely disclosure of any unethical behavior that might occur.

Examining prominent cases, such as the bribery involving Goldman Sachs, fraud in the Vatican Landmark, and the Base Transceiver Station mega corruption case, provides valuable insights for companies to enhance their integrity, strengthen oversight mechanisms, and maintain accountability. By drawing lessons from these cases, organizations can promote transparency, encourage violation disclosures, and respond appropriately to such ethical breaches.

Preventing Retaliation: Strengthening Whistleblower Reporting

It is important for companies to adopt effective procedures to prevent retaliation against whistleblowers who report harmful violations within the organization. However, concerns such as distrust in the reporting process and fear of retaliation can hinder individuals from reporting such incidents.

One effective solution is to involve a third party. Canary Whistleblowing, for example, can offer secure and encrypted channels for whistleblowers to report violations anonymously. The main advantage of involving a third party lies in the independent investigation conducted on the received reports.

By involving an impartial third party, potential biases or conflicts of interest that may arise when handling internal incidents can be minimized. Internal reporting can sometimes lead to conflicts of interest or attempts to conceal violations. Involving an independent third party ensures objectivity and transparency throughout the investigation process, demonstrating a commitment to transparency and integrity. This approach provides whistleblowers with the assurance that their reports will be taken seriously and without fear of negative consequences.


This publication is authored by and reflected the views and opinion of PT Integrity Indonesia. More information about PT Integrity Indonesia is available on