Ethiopian Legal Brief

Disclosure of Information for Public Interest Council of Ministers Regulation No. 405-2017

Council of Ministers Regulation No. 405-2017

COUNCIL OF MINISTERS REGULATION TO PROVIDE FOR  DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION FOR PUBLIC INTEREST

This Regulation is issued by the Council of Ministers pursuant to Article 5 of the Definition of Powers and Duties of the Executive Organs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Proclamation No.916/2015 and Article 37 (3) of the Freedom of the Mass Media and Access to Information Proclamation No.590/2008.

PART ONE General

  1. Short Title

This Regulation may be cited as the “Disclosure of Information for Public Interest Council of Ministers Regulation No. 405-2017”.

  1. Definition

In this Regulation unless the context requires otherwise:

1/        “public interest disclosure” means a disclosure of information made in good faith in accordance with this Regulation and includes any assistance or information given during an investigation on the basis of the disclosure;

 

2/        “Institution of the Ombudsman” means the Ethiopian Institution of the Ombudsman established under Proclamation No. 211/2000;

3/        “head of a public body” means an official who has been authorized by law to lead any government institution;

 

4/        “employee” means any person who works for the public service or public enterprise excluding the national intelligence service personnel;

 

5/ “concerned public body” means a body to which information is disclosed pursuant to Article 6 of this Regulation.

 

  1. Scope of Application

 

1/        This Regulation shall apply to any public interest disclosure concerning a serious danger posed to the health or safety of the public, the environment or any other harmful act committed in violation of duty and on the employee who discloses such impropriety.

2/        Notwithstanding to the provision of sub-article (1) of this Article, these Regulations shall not apply on information concerning to the national defense force, police force and national intelligence service institutions.

PART TWO Channels of Public Interest Disclosure

  1. Disclosure

1/ Any employee may, in the interest of the public, make disclosure of information on matters covered under Article 3(1) of this Regulation.

 

2/ The identity of an employee who makes disclosure of information in the interest of the public shall be kept confidential.

 

  1. Disclosure of information to Head of a Public Body

 

1/        Any employee shall first make a public interest disclosure to a head of the public body where the impropriety is alleged to have been committed or to a person delegated by him.

 

2/        Notwithstanding the provision of sub-article (1) of this Article, a public interest disclosure may be made directly to the concerned public body where:

  1. a) there is a reason to believe that it is likely that evidence relating to the impropriety will be concealed or destroyed; or

 

  1. b) the disclosure made is related to a very urgent matter.

3/        An employee who disclosed information to a legal counselor with an intention of seeking legal advice may not be considered as defying his disclosure obligation to the head of the public body

4/        An employee may make public interest disclosure to the concerned public body where the head of the public body to which disclosure is made has not taken action within a reasonable period or the employee is dissatisfied with the decision.

 

  1. Disclosure of Information to a Concerned Public Body

A public interest disclosure shall be made to the following concerned officials of the public bodies:

1/        if the disclosure is related to the health or safety of an individual or the public, to the Minister of Health;

2/        if the disclosure is related to the well-being of the environment, to the Minister of the Environment, Forest Development and Climate Change;

3/        if the disclosure is related to any other serious danger, to the head of the appropriate public body.

  1. Disclosure of Information to the Mass Media

Any employee, who made a public interest disclosure in accordance with Article 6 of these Regulations, may make the disclosure of information to the mass media where the head of a concerned public body has failed to commence an investigation within 15 days or decided not to investigate the impropriety.

PART THREE Receipt, Investigation and Decision-Making of Public Interest   Disclosure

  1. Duty to Receive Public Interest Disclosure

 

/        The head of any public body who is in charge to receive public interest disclosure in accordance with Articles 5 and 6 of this Regulation shall register the information, give to the employee acknowledgement of receipt in writing and keep the record confidential.

 

2/  The disclosure of information shall contain at least the following particulars:

  1. a) the full name, address and occupation of the employee who made the disclosure;

 

  1. b) the nature of the impropriety;

 

  1. c) the name and particulars of the person alleged to have committed the impropriety;

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  1. d) the time and place where the alleged impropriety took place, if possible;

 

  1. e) any additional evidence under the possession of the employee.

 

  1. Investigation

 

1/        The head of any public body who is authorized to receive public interest disclosure in accordance with Articles 5 and 6 of these Regulations shall immediately commence investigation upon receipt of information.

2/        The head of any public body who received public interest disclosure may require evidence necessary for the investigation from any person who is in control of such evidence.

3/        Any employee who made public interest disclosure has the right to assist during the investigation and know its outcome.

 

4/        If the disclosed information does not fall under his jurisdiction,  the head of any public body shall immediately refer the disclosed information to the concerned public body and notify same to the employee who made the disclosure.

 

  1. Decision-making

1/        The head of any public body who received public interest disclosure shall give decision immediately upon the completion of an investigation.

 

2/        The decision made in accordance with sub-article (1) of this Article shall be given to the public body where the impropriety is alleged to have been committed.

PART FOUR  Protection to an Employee Who Makes Public Interest Disclosure

  1. Conditions of Protection

 

 

Any employee who makes public interest disclosure shall enjoy protection specified under this Regulation where he:

 

1/        makes the disclosure in good faith;

2/        makes the disclosure to the public body authorized in accordance with these Regulations; and

3/        maintains the confidentiality of his identity and the disclosed information.

 

  1. Immunity from Liability

No employee shall be liable to criminal, civil and/or administrative proceedings for making a public interest disclosure in accordance with the provisions of Article 39 of the Freedom of the Mass media and Access to Information Proclamation No.590/2008.

  1. Burden of Proof

Where an employee who makes public interest disclosure lodge a complaint, the burden of proof lies on the person against whom the complaint is made.

 

  1. Protection against any Retaliatory Measure

1/        Any retaliatory measure against an employee who made public interest disclosure shall be prohibited.

 

2/        For the purpose of these Regulations retaliatory measure means disciplinary measures taken by the public body against an employee who made a public interest disclosure and includes the following:

  1. a) dismissal, suspension or demotion;

 

  1. b) transfer against his will or refusal of transfer when he is entitled;
  2. c) denial of promotion or training opportunities;

 

  1. d) denial of any employment benefits; or
  2. e) any measure that result in adverse effect on the employee.

 

  1. Lodging of Complaint

 

1/        Any employee who is subjected to a retaliatory measure as a result of his public interest disclosure may lodge his complaint to the Institution of the Ombudsman.

2/        The Institution of the Ombudsman shall, upon investigating the disclosure, take redressing measures within 30 days from the receipt of the complaint.

3/        If the  Institution of the Ombudsman proves that a retaliatory measure has been taken against the employee who made the disclosure, it shall give the appropriate order to the public body who took the retaliatory measure to reinstate the employee to his position held prior to such measure.

PART FIVE  Miscellaneous Provisions

  1. Reporting

1/        The head of any public body that is authorized to receive public interest disclosure shall submit to the Institution of the Ombudsman a report containing the type, number and decisions made on such disclosure within 15 days of its disclosure.

 

2/        The Institution of the Ombudsman shall, based on the report, shall cause rectification measure to be taken.

 

  1. Inapplicable Laws

No regulation, directive or customary practice shall, in so far as it is inconsistent with the provisions of these Regulations, be applicable with respect to matters provided for in this Regulation.

  1. Power to Issue Directive

The Chief Ombudsman of the Institution of the Ombudsman may issue directives necessary for the proper implementation of this Regulation.

 

  1. Effective Date

This Regulation shall enter into force on the date of publication in the Federal Negarit Gazette.

 

Done at Addis Ababa, this 26th day of May 2017.

 

              HAILEMARIAM    DESSALEGN

  PRIME MINISTER OF THE FEDERAL DEMOCRATIC  REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA

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