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Kid truth-tellers make the case for the protection of whistleblowers in Europe

What’s the connection between Edward Snowden and a five-year-old kid? Both are willing to tell uncomfortable truths — whether about the the existence of a secret surveillance state or the fact you’ve got a giant bogie in your nose.

That’s the premise behind a new and unusual video from the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, which makes the case for protecting whistleblowers – people who expose the truth – from being fired, demoted, harassed or sued by their employers in order to keep them quiet.

‘This may be the first time a political group in the European Parliament has tried to win a legislative campaign with fart jokes’, said Tommy Crawford, creative director of Dancing Fox, the agency that created the spot.

‘Most videos on this issue tend to be very serious, and make whistleblowing seem like this very frightening and rare thing. But in truth, there are many wrong-doings happening everyday — in hospitals, in schools, in offices — and people need to feel able to report these. In essence, whistleblowing is about telling the truth, even when it’s a bit uncomfortable, and no-one is better at that than kids.’

Overturning social norms

The video was produced in 15 different languages, and shot in Amsterdam with children from across Europe. The idea for the video came after Crawford walked into his kitchen one day with his hair tied back and his three-year-old niece declared: ‘Uncle Tommy, you look like a unicorn!’

Europe is on the verge of enacting new legislation that would introduce penalties for people that retaliate against whistleblowers or try to shut them up. The first of its kind, the law would oblige all EU governments to introduce minimum standards for the protection of truth-tellers, including penalising people that retaliate against whistleblowers or try to shut them up and shielding truth-tellers from being taken to court for their disclosures.

Eventually, this type of legislation could overturn the strong social norm around keeping your head down and your mouth shut. ‘That’s the kind of social norm you see in a crime network or a police state — not the one we want in Europe’, said Pam Bartlett Quintanilla, transparency and democracy campaigner for the Greens/EFA. ‘It’s this social norm that allows unscrupulous people to get away with marketing horse meat as beef, sexually abusing the people they’re supposed to protect, or spying on everyone in the world.’

‘The #TruthNeedsFriends campaign calls on people to stand up for truth-tellers — no matter how old they are — by sharing the video and tagging their government representatives on social media. By sharing this video, we’re letting our representatives know that truth and honesty are values we want the future of Europe to be built upon.

‘The future of truth-tellers across Europe is hanging in the balance and we are running out of time — which is why now, more than ever, the #TruthNeedsFriends.’

Transparency and democracy campaigner for the Greens/EFA

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