Strengthening Whistleblower Protection at Central and Local Level
September 9, 2019
With over 150 participants, representatives of local governments, public administration, public prosecutors’ offices,, the judiciary, the civil sector, international community, media and whistleblowers, the “Whistleblower Protection at Central and Local Level” was organized jointly by the Serbian Ministry of Justice, USAID Government Accountability Project (GAI), the EU funded “Prevention and Fight against Corruption” Project and the Pištaljka Portal on September 9, 2019.
In his opening address, US Ambassador Mr. Kyle Scott spoke of corruption as a global problem, which feeds on apathy and undermines government confidence, raises taxes and discourages investors and jobs, forcing people to work in the gray economy. He referred to USAID GAI’s Survey on Public perception on fight against corruption in Serbia from 2018, which showed that 80% of the surveyed believe corruption in Serbia to be moderate to very high. Underlining that very few people are ready to report corruption, Ambassador Scott added that the most effective ways to fight corruption are raising awareness on corruption and on the importance of whistleblowers in the adjudication of corruption cases.
Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia Ms. Matea Norčić Štamcar commended Serbia on its forward-thinking law, stating that corruption undermines the main postulate of a democratic society – equality; and that corruption is like a disease which is best fought by prevention.
The Serbian Minister of Justice, Ms. Nela Kuburović said that with the adoption of the Law on Whistleblower Protection, Serbia became a pioneer in this area – not only in the region, but throughout Europe. Minister Kuburović pointed out that from the beginning of implementation of the Law on Protection of Whistleblowers until the end of 2018, there were 622 ongoing cases, 533 cases were resolved, and 107 internal whistleblowing were recorded.
Through four panels, the participants examined the Serbian legal framework and results of implementation of the Law on Whistleblower Protection. Panelists included whistleblowers who spoke of their experiences on how the Law was implemented. Also, the new demand-driven EU legislation was examined and how the new EU Directive will influence whistleblower protection throughout Europe and in Serbia.
USAID GAI, implemented by Checchi and Company Consulting Inc. has trained nearly one quarter of Serbia’s local governments in whistleblower protection systems and, based on the need expressed by local governments, developed a practical manual for persons designated to receive whistleblower reports in local governments to facilitate the receipt of the reports and protection of whistleblowers in local governments.