Noted United Nations Whistleblower, Film Subject to Speak
(Washington, DC) – On Monday, Nov. 5, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) will kick off the second year of its acclaimed program, the American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability, at the University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL). The stop will feature prominent UN whistleblower Kathryn Bolkovac, the inspiration for the 2011 film The Whistleblower, starring Rachel Weisz.
GAP's Tour is a dynamic campaign aimed at educating the public – particularly university students – about the phenomenon and practice of whistleblowing. This stop will feature a showing of The Whistleblower, followed by a moderated discussion with Bolkovac about her experiences. The event is free to all, and a full description of the Tour can be found at www.WhistleblowerTour.org.
This Tour stop is sponsored by GAP and UHCL, and is part of the University’s Film & Speaker series. The event will last from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. at the University’s Bayou Theater.
Kathryn Bolkovac is a former Nebraska policewoman who served as an International Police Task Force human rights investigator in Bosnia. Working for a private contracting firm assigned to support the UN peacekeeping mission in that country, she discovered that officers were involved in gross wrongdoing, including human trafficking and forced prostitution. After bringing her findings to light, she was retaliated against and fired. Fearing for her safety, Bolkovac fled the country. With the evidence she brought out with her, she exposed gross human rights violations and crimes, resulting in multiple officers being removed from their positions. Because this process had exposed Bolkovac to intense reprisal, she sued her employer and eventually won her lawsuit.
The presentation will be moderated by GAP International Program Officer Shelley Walden, an expert on UN whistleblower policy and coauthor of the recent GAP report, Tipping the Scales: Is the United Nations Justice System Promoting Accountability in the Peacekeeping Missions or Undermining It? The report found that, among other problems, the UN’s current system of protecting whistleblowers in the peacekeeping missions from retaliation has gaping loopholes that must be closed. Walden also blogs regularly on UN whistleblower issues and found the retaliation Bolkovac faced as a UN whistleblower remains (unfortunately) typical in today’s system.
"The public will learn about the importance of speaking truth to power, and the inherent risks whistleblowers face when they do so," said Walden of the event.
UHCL President William A. Staples will introduce the event. The Film & Speaker Series at UHCL was created in 2003 as the Film & History Club by student Sonia Hernandez. Since that time, Hernandez has graduated, become a part of the Office of Student Life and oversees the Film & Speaker Series, which has become a permanent part of the Cultural Arts events offered to the UHCL community. Hernandez strives to fill the Film & Speaker Series with informational and relevant films that stimulate conversation. She was excited about adding the American Whistleblower Tour to the 2012-13 film roster. UHCL Assistant Director of Student Life Andrew Reitberger concurs with Hernandez about the importance of presenting such films to the students, faculty and surrounding communities.
"The Whistleblower certainly falls into line with the kind of film presentations we like to provide through the Film & Speaker Series," says Hernandez, now the UHCL film curator. "We are especially honored to have Kathy Bolkovac at this event to discuss her experience and to raise awareness of the importance of whistleblowing in a democratic society to our students and community friends."
About the Tour
This UHCL stop is the first of several to be held this academic year. Future stops in 2012-13 will include Auburn University, Franklin & Marshall College, Florida International University, Indiana University-Purdue, and Indiana University-Bloomington.
During the 2011-12 academic year, the American Whistleblower Tour visited 13 colleges, including Auburn University, Mount Holyoke College, Rutgers University-Newark, Syracuse University, Tulane University, and the University of Texas at Austin. GAP secures some of the most prominent whistleblowers in American history for its Tour. Last year, whistleblower presenters included Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers), Frank Serpico (NYPD), Sherron Watkins (Enron) and Susan Wood ("Plan B").
Goals of the Tour include raising awareness about the vital role whistleblowing has in our democracy, preparing America's youth for ethical decision-making, countering negative connotations associated with whistleblowing, connecting prospective whistleblowers to available resources, and encouraging academic studies of whistleblowing.
Contact: Dylan Blaylock, GAP Communications Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 137, 202.236.3733 (cell)
Contact: Karen Barbier, UHCL Assistant Director of Media Relations, Office of Communications
Government Accountability Project
The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.