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The Evolution and Implementation of Whistleblower Protection in Sweden
Stockholm University, Faculty of Law, Department of Law, The Swedish Law and Informatics Research Institute.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7194-9617
2023 (English)In: Europe’s New Whistleblowing Laws: Research Papers from the 2nd European Conference on Whistleblowing Legislation / [ed] Simon Gerdemann, Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Göttingen, 2023, p. 26-62Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The 2019 EU whistleblowing directive (WBD) was enacted to strengthen the position of whistleblowers and provide more effective protection throughout the EU, not least through mandatory whistleblower functions now being implemented by large employers. The implementation of the directive in Sweden has been fairly swift, arguably as whistleblowing protection is already a part of Swedish legal culture.Whistleblower protection in Sweden has its historic roots in the 1766 Freedom of the Press Act. A reaction to corruption and secretive government, the drafters of the Act viewed the participation of citizens and civil servants through the freedom of informants and the right to access public documents as central checks on government. Over the centuries this freedom of informants has been strengthened through the addition of prohibitions on public agencies as to making inquiries into the identity of informants as well as reprisals. Nevertheless, it was not until 2016 that the first specific Whistleblower Act (WA) was introduced. The Act applies to both the public and private sectors. The WBD was implemented in 2021 through a new WA, lagen (2021:890) om skydd för den som rapporterar om missförhållanden, which builds on the 2016 Act but is significantly broader in scope. The aim of this paper is to analyze the evolution of whistleblower protection as well as the current system of the whistleblower legislation in Sweden leading up to the implementation of the WBD. Some reflections related to issues concerning legal culture are given, with the possible challenges regarding the integration of the new European rules in Sweden as well as an analysis of the effectiveness of the Swedish whistleblower protection system. The paper concludes that the implementation of the WBD in Swedish law strengthens whistleblower protection, but also creates a higher degree of complexity, which might lead to it being weakened in practice. Complexities might arise related to the fact that the constitutional protection has precedence over the WA. It might not be clear in all cases which provisions are to apply, which carries with it a risk that the current system will be confusing for potential whistleblowers. Another issue of concern is that the WA requires the whistleblower to follow certain procedures. Although this can create a comprehensible procedure and, in some ways, facilitate reporting of wrongdoings, it can also constitute a restraint on the freedom to report as the whistleblower sees fit together with, for example, a professional reporter. Furthermore, the fact that whistleblowers generally have to report through external reporting channels before he or she can go public might undermine the role of the media as the public watchdog as well as a corporate watchdog.     Moreover, there are still important access to justice issues related to whistleblowing in Sweden that need to be overcome, which has become clear in recent case law through e.g. the Grinnemo-case.     Despite these concerns, it is likely that whistleblower protection will evolve further with the new law and strengthen the safeguards for an effective whistleblower protection to the benefit of the transparency and the proper functioning of democratic societies. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Göttingen, 2023. p. 26-62
Keywords [en]
whistleblower, whistleblower protection, Whistleblower Directive, Whistleblower Act, Freedom of the Press Act, retaliation, anonymity, reporting channels, transparency
Keywords [sv]
Visselblåsare, Visselblåsardirektivet, skydd för visselblåsare, lagen (2021:890) om skydd för den som rapporterar om missförhållanden, tryckfrihetsförordningen, efterforskningsförbud, repressalieförbud, rapporteringskanaler, offentlighetsprincipen
National Category
Law (excluding Law and Society)
Research subject
Legal Science, specialisation Public Law
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-220171DOI: 10.17875/gup2023-2354ISBN: 978-3-86395-595-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-220171DiVA, id: diva2:1789448
Available from: 2023-08-19 Created: 2023-08-19 Last updated: 2023-09-11Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttps://univerlag.uni-goettingen.de/bitstream/handle/3/isbn-978-3-86395-595-3/gerdemann_whistleblowing.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

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Fast Lappalainen, Katarina

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