USAID Supports Serbian Local Governments Implement Whistleblower Protection Frameworks to Increase Government Accountability
December 7, 2018
In the period from November 29 until December 7, 2018, USAID’s Government Accountability Initiative (GAI), implemented by Checchi & Company Consulting Inc. held regional workshops on implementation of whistleblower protection systems for local governments in Serbia.
Three regional workshops convened a total of 64 participants from 31 local governments and 6 local public companies. The trainings raised awareness of the importance of whistleblowing for suppression of corruption, recommended organizational structures and procedures for secure and effective whistleblower protection functions within governments, and presented tools required for efficient work with whistleblowers. The training was provided by Mr. Tom Devine, a leading international expert for whistleblower protection and the investigative journalists and lawyers of Pištaljka, the only organization in Serbia dedicated to whistleblowing. Pištaljka has previously trained judges, prosecutors, police, attorneys in law implementation.
According to Mr. Devine, the Serbian Whistleblower Protection Law which began implementation in 2015 is considered a “golden standard” in protection of whistleblowers. Despite that, awareness of the importance of implementation of efficient systems for internal whistleblowing in local governments remains low. Frequently, persons authorized to work with whistleblowers lack training, guidelines, organizational support and protection required for effective work with whistleblowers. In addition, municipal employees and users of public services often are unaware of their options and rights in reporting corruption. Following the introductory workshops and based on participant feedback, the Government Accountability Initiative will provide recommendations for organization of effective whistleblower protection systems appropriate to Serbian local government context. GAI also will support counterpart local governments with technical assistance to develop systems appropriate to their environments.