Strengthening protection of whistleblowers in the United States

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

His Excellency David Cary Jacobson, Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of the United States of America
490 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1P 5T1

March 29, 2011

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

As the United States prepares to host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day in Washington DC for the first time, CJFE calls on the American government to strengthen its protection of whistleblowers and continue to promote freedom of expression within its borders.

The United States has a strong history of whistleblowing, with famous informers such as Watergate’s Mark Felt and the tobacco industry’s Dr. Jeffrey Wigand bringing important information to the attention of the public. Legislation has been developed to provide protection and incentives for American whistleblowers, such as the False Claims Reform Act and the Whistleblower Protection Act. However, the legislation does not provide protection to all professions, or to those who do not follow specific lines of communication. This means some American citizens, including those who take information to the media, can be left without these protections.

As a nation that opposes the censoring and silencing of citizens by their government, the United States ranks high on Reporters Without Borders Free Expression Index. However, concerns have been raised in regards to the American government’s condemnation of Wikileaks and the treatment of Private Bradley Manning, who is being held in detention on charges related to leaking information.

CJFE urges the American government to strengthen its protection and promotion of whistleblowers, and re-evaluate its stance on the actions of Wikileaks and the alleged actions of Private Manning. As the 2011 host of World Press Freedom Day, CJFE believes that the United States is ideally placed to show leadership on this issue and in general in its protection of the right to free expression.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Mr. Gary Doer, Ambassador of Canada to the United States
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs