"Degrading treatment" of whistleblowers condemned in Scottish Parliament

Dr Bill Wilson MSP (SNP) condemned the degrading treatment of whistleblowers today while attempting to get the Scottish Government to acknowledge the importance of WikiLeaks. The Scottish Government was prevented from commenting on this topic by the Presiding Officer.

Dr Wilson raised the issue of WikiLeaks after asking the Scottish Government what actions it takes to encourage and protect whistleblowers in Scottish public services, or those working for companies fulfilling public contracts. He said, “Would the Scottish Government agree that, with reference to whistleblowing, WikiLeaks provides a valuable service and therefore that individuals who provide information to it, such as Bradley Manning, should be viewed as heroes rather than villains, but that however you view them they should be not be subjected to cruel or degrading treatment and that subjecting individuals to prolonged isolation is a form of torture?”

US army whistleblower Private Bradley Manning was imprisoned and is allegedly held under punitive conditions for releasing, through the WikiLeaks site, a classified video of a United States Apache helicopter firing on civilians in New Baghdad in 2007.

Jim Mather, the Scottish Government Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism, answered the first question with reference to the Civil Service Code and the Public Interest Disclosure Act of 1998 but was prevented from answering the second question by the Presiding Officer, who said, “I’m sorry. That has absolutely no remit within the workings of Scottish Government at all, and I am not going to call the Minister to respond.”

Speaking afterwards, Dr Wilson said, “True democracy depends upon an informed electorate. Free media are essential for this. When governments and vested interests seek to silence dissident voices we should resist and stand up for those who draw attention to human rights abuses, often at great personal risk.

“Unfortunately, the UK Government is not only failing to help Bradley Manning, who qualifies for UK citizenship by virtue of his mother, it is also failing to condemn the inhumane treatment he appears to be suffering at the hands of US authorities. I am sure that the people of Scotland would wish their government to stand up for human rights, but as a devolved institution it appears the Scottish Government is voiceless. This is yet another reason why Scotland should be independent: so that we can be a strong moral force in the world.”

“I support the work of WikiLeaks and those brave individuals using it to expose wrongdoing. As I said in the Chamber today, people like Bradley Manning should be praised as heroes rather than condemned as villains.”

Notes to Editors

1. Text of questions and answers

Bill Wilson: (S3O-13288) To ask the Scottish Government what actions it takes to encourage and protect whistleblowers in Scottish public services, or those working for companies fulfilling public contracts.

Jim Mather: The Scottish Government has an established policy for Scottish Government staff on whistleblowing, which is based on the provisions of the Civil Service Code and Public Interest Disclosure Act of 1998 (the policy is published on the SG website) and also within NHS Scotland the relevant national policy states that organisations must welcome the raising of issues and concerns and promote this as a measure to ensure employee satisfaction and ultimately lead to improvements in patient care, and that employees must also be assured that no victimisation as a result of raising a concern will be tolerated by the organisation. It’s a matter for individual local authorities to ensure that their staff are aware of the policies in place to encourage and protect whistleblowers. As far as contracts between the Scottish Government and providers of goods and services are concerned, we do not normally include clauses on the relationship between the contractor and staff beyond those that are necessary for the performance of the contract.

Bill Wilson: Would the Scottish Government agree that, with reference to whistleblowing, WikiLeaks provides a valuable service and therefore that individuals who provide information to it, such as Bradley Manning, should be viewed as heroes rather than villains, but that however you view them they should be not be subjected to cruel or degrading treatment and that subjecting individuals to prolonged isolation is a form of torture?

Presiding Officer: I’m sorry. That has absolutely no remit within the workings of Scottish Government at all, and I am not going to call the Minister to respond.

2. Background information

Bradley Manning website
http://www.bradleymanning.org

UK must intervene to stop the torture of Bradley Manning