Three years after it was first proposed, a comprehensive whistleblower law was passed by the Assembly of Macedonia in November 2015. The law represents another step in the country’s efforts to join the EU, for which it has been a candidate since 2005.
The Law on Whistleblowers’ Protection, first suggested by Coalition member Transparency International Macedonia in 2012, includes many international and European standards, including:
- protection for employees of government institutions and private companies
- a broad definition of “employee” that includes volunteers, interns and job applicants
- a broad range of offenses that can be reported, including crime; corruption; violations of citizens’ basic freedoms and rights; health, environmental, defense and security risks; threats to ownership, the free market economy and entrepreneurship; and threats to rule of law
- the opportunity to report misconduct (under various circumstances) either within a workplace, to authorities, or to the general public (if life, public health, security or the environment is at risk)
- penalties up to €6,000 for violations including failing to maintain a whistleblower’s confidentiality and failing to submit reports on whistleblower complaints
“From a comparative analysis with the EU countries, we realized that we need legal protections for those who dare to report corruption.” Justice Minister Adnan Jashari said in October 2015. “These citizens must not suffer consequences for their actions.”
Political discussions around the bill in 2015 were punctuated by the need to protect people who provided evidence about illegal mass surveillance in Macedonia. However, the law as passed by the Assembly does not include specific provisions for this.
The law was spearheaded last year by the opposition Social Democratic Union.