The use of real names when reporting acts of suspected corruption does not violate the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, the local Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) noted in its reply to lawmaker Sulu Sou’s inquiry, in which the lawmaker pointed out that the Convention allows for anonymous reporting. The CCAC said that anonymous reports are much harder to properly investigate.
The lawmaker cited Clause 2, Article 13 of the Convention Against Corruption and said it recommends that member states offer discretion on anonymous reporting, among other protective measures.
Sulu Sou pointed out that, in many cases, whistleblowers may face consequences, including punishment or dismissal following their disclosure of suspected corruption cases.
The lawmaker questioned how the government would be able to guarantee impartiality when handling anonymously reported cases, whether it could protect whistleblowers in the absence of dedicated laws, and if it would consider legislation to protect whistleblowers.
In its reply, the anti-graft watchdog stressed that “[real-name reports] do not imply that the identity of the complainant or the whistleblower will be publicized.”
The CCAC explained that if the whistleblower expresses their reluctance to have their identity revealed, the Commission has internal mechanisms to take note of the request and handle information relating to their identity with extra caution.
The problem, according to the CCAC, is that it is more difficult to investigate cases initiated via an anonymous report. The anti-graft authority said that two-thirds of these anonymous reports were deemed to be groundless in 2019.
Furthermore, the entity pointed out that its inspectors are bound by a duty of confidentiality throughout their work including when presenting before a court of law – pursuant to the Charter of the CCAC and Administrative System for the Handling of Civil Servant Complaints. Anyone in breach of this duty can be prosecuted.
In addition, the public entity stressed that the Labor Relations Law’s stipulation on unreasonable lay-offs is also capable of safeguarding whistleblowers against any possible revenge.
All in all, neither the CCAC nor the Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau are aware of or have received reports regarding any revenge taken against any whistleblower.
The People’s Republic of China ratified the Convention in 2006 and requires the special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong to also abide by its provisions.
To protect informants from revenge and other adverse consequences, laws have been made in several countries such as the U.S., the U.K. and New Zealand. Article 33 of the Convention Against Corruption also stipulates the need for such legislation.