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Protecting Whistleblowers

We commit to provide adequate protection to those who report corruption by strictly applying the ‘Act on anti-corruption and the Establishment and Operation of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission’ and the ‘Act on the Protection of Public Interest Whistleblowers’.

Country: South Korea

Status: ongoing

Themes: Whistleblower/civil society space protection

Last updated: December 2020

Classification:

Concrete: Concrete | New: New | Ambitious: Somewhat Ambitious

  • 8 Evidence:

    revised Public Interest Whistleblower Protection Act

    More severe punishment to be imposed on acts of revealing the identity of corruption reporters

    Medical Treatment Support to be Provided for Public Interest Whistleblowers

    Anyone who disadvantages against corruption whistleblowers to be more severely punished...

    ACRC Offers KRW 1.73 Billion in Compensation for Reporting Corruption or Public Interest Violation

    Representative reporting by lawyers introduced to protect whistle-blowers’ identities

    OECD Anti-Bribery Phase 4 Monitoring Report

    Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission Annual Report 2018

  • 9 Notes:

    Public Interest Whistleblower Protection Act was revised on May 2020 and newly added 182 laws including the Act on Special Cases Concerning the Punishment of Sexual Crimes and the Military Service Act that are socially critical and urgent to the existing 284 laws. And the bill will come into force on November 20, 2020. To promote whistleblowing on public interest violation, the ACRC expanded the scope of public interest whistleblowing and reinforced punishment on cases where the identity of whistleblowers was revealed. In addition, they subsidized medical care for public interest whistleblowers in order to reinforce their protection. Civil Society's participation and oversight is fundamental to ensure that the law works properly.

    Updated: October 31, 2020

    South Korea's policy and law on protecting whistle-blowers was amended in August 2019, strengthening the effectiveness of the law and introducing anonymous reporting policies. For instance, retaliation of whistle-blowers is punishable with up to 3 years in prison or there is a relief fund of up to 30 million available to whistle-blowers who incur into financial losses as a result of uncovering crime.

    Updated: April 30, 2020

    According to the OECD Anti-Bribery Phase 4 Monitoring Report published in December 2018, whistleblower protection framework constitute good practices.

    Updated: October 30, 2019

    From the ARC 2018 report: "In order to protect those who report violations of public interest which harm public health, safety, environment, etc., the ACRC enacted and enforced the Act on the Protection of Public Interest Whistleblowers (September 30, 2011). In May, 2018, the Act was revised to increase the areas subject to public interest whistleblowing from five before (health, safety, Major Achievements Since the Launch of the ACRC Chapter 1. Part 1. Assessment and Future Direction of the ACRC 11 Annual Report 2018 environment, consumer interest, and fair competition), to include a new category of “other types of equivalent public interests.” The report also demonstrates active enforcement and handling of whistleblower reports. From January 25, 2002, when the former Korea Independent Commission against Corruption (KICAC) was launched, to the end of December 2018, a total of 51,911 reports were submitted, with 254 reports received per month on average.

    Peer reviewer: 1

    Updated: October 30, 2019

    Korea has been strengthening further the protection of reporters on corruption and public interest violation since the enactment of the relevant laws. According to the OECD Anti-Bribery Phase 4 Monitoring Report published in December 2018 (http://www.oecd.org/korea/korea-oecdanti-briberyconvention.htm, pg.18), there have been amendments and improvements in the laws, notably an increase in scope of protection and protection for both internal external reporting. They found the whistleblower protection framework constitute good practices. [Future Plan] The ACRC is planning to expand the list of laws subject to public interest violation reporting. In addition, the amendment bill of Act on the Corruption Prevention and the Establishment and Management of the ACRC, which just passed the National Congress in March 2019, includes the imposition of charge for compelling the compliance, further expansion of protected reporting subject, introduction of relief money for the expenses of moving or medical care of reporters. As such, the ACRC continues to make efforts to create safe environment for reporters to raise a concern without fear.

    Updated: May 30, 2019

    ACRC will promulgate the revised Act on the protection of Public interest whistleblowers on April 17. Which introduced a new provision of representative reporting by lawyers. Public interest reporters will become able to submit documents, or make a statement of opinion as well as file a report through lawyers,thereby strengthening the protection of confidentiality of the public interest reporters.

    Updated: October 30, 2018

    No change.

    Updated: June 30, 2018

    The ACRC provides protection and financial rewards for the persons who report corruption or violation of the public interest including public health and safety, the environment, consumer interests and fair competition under the Act on Anti-Corruption and the Establishment and Operation of the ACRC and the Act on the Protection of Public Interest Whistleblowers. Those who report foreign bribery are also protected under the latter Act. Between March 2008 and March 2017, the ACRC received a total of 28,982 reports of corruption, handled 168 cases of requests for the protection of whistleblowers, and provided a total of KRW 9.8 billion (about USD 9 million) financial rewards for whistleblowers in 314 cases. Between September 2011, when the new whistleblower Act was implemented, and March 2017, the ACRC received a total of 21,844 reports of public interest violations, handled 87 cases of requests for the protection of whistleblowers, and provided a total of KRW 4.2 billion (about USD 4 million) financial rewards for whistleblowers in 5,355 cases. The ACRC is currently seeking to amend the ACRC Act to expand protection for whistleblowers. The amendment bill is being reviewed by the Ministry of Legislation as of May 2017.

    Updated: July 30, 2017

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