By Joe Colas
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) -- Haiti's anti-corruption unit chief said his office has drafted a law to protect whistleblowers and has set up the Caribbean country's first anti-corruption hotline which has already allowed relevant authorities to collect several hundred denunciations of suspected acts of misconduct.
Colonel Antoine Atouriste
Former Army Colonel Antoine Atouriste said his office is planning to submit to Parliament for approval the draft law that will protect individuals denouncing acts of corruption in the public administration, from being forced to appear before courts as witnesses or being prosecuted for libel or similar infringements.
"We want to make it easy for employees and other individuals, who know about acts of corruption, to feel free and comfortable to denounce them," Atouriste told HCNN in an interview on Thursday.
"The law we are proposing also prohibits that the name of whistleblowers be mentioned in any report or revealed to any authority or other entities," said Atouriste who believes that with such measures more people will want to denounce corrupt practices.
The anti-corruption unit has also established the country's first anti-corruption hotline (56 56), free of charge, to incite the general population to engage in the fight against corrupt practices, uphold transparency, good governance and accountability.
"The hotline is working and we want people to know that it is in their own interest to denounce corruption and we will protect their identity," explained Atouriste, who acknowledged the unprecedented support his office has received from the highest political authorities.
Atouriste said he met several times with the Haitian leader Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who have expressed support for the anti-corruption campaign his team is conducting, and their political will, he said, "has been crucial in achieving what we've done so far."
"The president and the Prime minister have told me that I have their full support to investigate and report against anyone involved with corruption, without any exception, and including in their own offices," Atouriste told HCNN.
The anti-corruption unit chief said the government has increased his office's budget and has made additional logistical means available to facilitate the mission of his dedicated team.
Some 63 people, including government functionaries, have recently been indicted on corruption charges as a result of the anti-corruption unit's investigating work and 27 other corruption cases have been submitted to the prosecutor's office for legal proceedings.