Term Paper: Puerto Rico Ethical Standards for Whistleblowers

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Puerto Rico Ethical Standards for Whistleblowers

In 1953 the United States officially declared that Puerto Rico was no longer a dependent territory. Thus "Puerto Rican government, who claimed that the Commonwealth had entered freely and of its own accord into the compact with Washington defining its present political status, that it had achieved self-government" which was identical with the framework of the American Union. (Hanson, 382) Economic developments in Puerto Rico resulted in new industries and occupations. The shift in employment from agriculture to industry was at 204,000 in April 1955. The numbers shift paradigm has brought with it the social necessity that accompanies change. (Jaffe, 97)

We have to remember that Puerto Rico still maintains close ties with the United States and follows the U.S. model of legislation and also functioning. Puerto Rico has a very clear law regarding most aspects of human life, and lately has introduced laws for whistle blowers. The witness protection programs of the country are outstanding and functioning properly. In fact some of the complexity that the U.S. law in the context of the U.S. scenario is absent in Puerto Rico. "The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico also has a witness protection program. Certain States such as California, Iowa and New York have some form of a witness protection program that was established without any legislation." (Witness protection programs in America)

The government shows ken interest in the judicial and ethics field. In order to keep current of the rightful processes that go on in the country, back in "October 27, 2003, the Office of Government Ethics of Puerto Rico" published a result of a survey that was conducted on the performance of public servants. (Office of Government Ethics of Puerto Rico Releases Survey on Employee Ethics) The survey was to measure "the perception of ethics within the workplace and the need to uphold ethical standards in government service." (Office of Government Ethics of Puerto Rico Releases Survey on Employee Ethics) "Responses from 62,605 government staff from public corporations, municipalities and central government" showed that employees admit that there is a "requirement with regard to ethical values as also standards." (Office of Government Ethics of Puerto Rico Releases Survey on Employee Ethics) There was 98% agreement that "government must hold its staff to the highest levels of ethical conduct." (Office of Government Ethics of Puerto Rico Releases Survey on Employee Ethics)

Only 26% reported that they were pressured to violate the law. Thus significant "number of employees is under pressure to violate ethics standards." (Office of Government Ethics of Puerto Rico Releases Survey on Employee Ethics) Another 34% stated that they have observed violation by others. The result thus showed that at least in government institutions there was a problem of violations. The term whistle blower as defined earlier could not fit to a person reporting on an ordinary misdemeanor. There are concerns that affect the person who takes on that role and the agencies that require him to come clean. The future of a whistle bower in the organization would generally be bleak. There would be threats even to his or her life. (Office of Government Ethics of Puerto Rico Releases Survey on Employee Ethics)

That apart, the government of the country has exclusive witness protection programs that pertain especially to whistle bowers from the criminal section. This required protection is done with the help of the United States Government in an extensive manner. The fact that witnesses are protected from danger is also indicative that the laws enacted are followed in spirit. For example in relocating a witness the following considerations come into play: first is the danger to the witness within Puerto Rico; "Victims and witnesses have been relocated to several Florida cities since the inception of the program." (Witness protection programs in America) The same enthusiasm is shown in the case of whistle blowers with the new whistle blowers act and the laws of privilege.

Puerto Rico is a small island, "less than one hundred miles long and thirty-five miles wide. It is densely populated." (Witness protection programs in America) 'This geographical arena' which is 'small' thus makes whistle bowers, informants and other such persons vulnerable. (Witness protection programs in America) The Puerto Rico legal is completely unified. Their enforcement system is not comparable to those in the United States. "All law enforcement personnel are state officials and report to a central police authority. All prosecuting attorneys, criminal investigators, and other police agencies are part of a unified system of justice which enforces Puerto Rico law. Due to these unique circumstances, we have developed a victim and witness protection program that is more comprehensive than other state and local programs in the United States." (Witness protection programs in America)

The California Supreme Court has shown leniency to whistle-blowers in state government protection by stating "that the Legislature enacted the California Whistleblower Protection Act to protect the right of state employees to report waste, fraud, abuse of authority, violation of law or threat to public health without fear of retribution." (California Supreme Court Grants Whistleblower Protection) According to the judgment of Justice Joyce L. Kennard, Puerto Rico has taken over American democratic theory with a free government. Judith Miller in the U.S. was 85 days in jail over privileged communication she got on the CIA. "New York Times reporter Judith Miller was of the opinion that she was having interest in trying to get a shield law of federal journalism." (Judith Miller) In Puerto Rico, the situation with regard to whistle blowers are the same so far as employment and disclosures are concerned. But the witness protection program is seen to be highly successful and is done with utmost care.

2. Discussion

Who blows the whistle?

A whistleblower is an employee who 'blows the whistle' or tells on an employer or could be a public interest person who complains on the actions of civil servants. Privilege as distinct from this is the power given to people in certain relationships, like lawyer and client, husband and wife to withhold information from the world. While the 'Whistleblower' sends out information to the whole world on matters suppressed, the communication that is privileged ought not to be ever revealed. In most countries lawyers enjoy such freedom. Journalists who get information however are not protected and that led to Journalists demanding that the privilege be extended to them. The 'Whistleblower Protection Act' -- is often interpreted by courts causing legal precedents which actually restrain federal employees to blow the whistle. "In John D. Horton v. Department of Transportation, September 1995, John D. Horton alleged retaliation after complaining to his boss about misconduct in the office. The Federal Circuit said that, Horton was not protected from retribution because he spoke out to his boss, who he also alleged was involved in the misconduct." (Defining a Whistleblower: The Legal Precedents)

Likewise in "William E. Willis, II v. Department of Agriculture, April 1998, One Willis after uncovering wrongdoing, found that the law did not apply to him because uncovering wrongdoing was part of his day-to-day job responsibilities." (Defining a Whistleblower: The Legal Precedents) Lastly "the Kenneth D. Huffman v. Office of Personnel Management, August 2001 laid down the rule that the employee cannot prove retaliation after blowing the whistle, if the work assigned was part of his job duties, or some duties bund to be done to the alleged wrongdoer himself." (Defining a Whistleblower: The Legal Precedents) All these precedents are sometimes unclear about the true nature of protection granted to whistle blowers. If someone blew a whistle, what guarantee that there will be protection following?

The protection for whistle blowers comes in the form of acts that prohibits employers from any kind of retaliation against whistleblowers. If employers do retaliate then the whistleblower protection provisions provide avenues of relief for victims. (Whistleblower Protection) Whistleblower acts are present in Puerto Rico too. In a democratic society, in theory, is ruled by its public opinion. Puerto Rico has taken over American democratic theory with a free government. "What people think becomes less their own spontaneous reaction to events than the final product of a vast semi-coercive process of mass suggestiveness and indoctrination controlled by the hidden persuaders and the image merchants." (Lewis, 469)

Judith Miller spent 85 days in prison over the confidential source of the leak she got on the CIA. "Miller was released only after agreeing to testify before a grand jury investigating the 2003 leak of the identity of a CIA operative. The Times reported that Miller had obtained what a voluntary and personal waiver from her source. Miller said her source made clear that she was not bound by any pledge of confidentiality. Miller's source was I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Richard Cheney. Judge Hogan jailed Miller on July 6 for refusing to testify about her conversations with a confidential source." (Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)) Would this incident have been different in Puerto Rico? Since the country follows the U.S.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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