by Mark Worth
Whistleblower rights continue to improve Southeast Europe, with Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro activating new laws since mid-2015. Seven of 10 countries now have some form of legal protections in place, a new Coalition report finds.
This number could rise soon, with policy-makers and activists working to develop new laws in Croatia and Moldova, according to the report Protecting Whistleblowers in Southeast Europe: A Review of Policies, Cases and Initiatives. Among 10 countries studied, only in Bulgaria is there little momentum to strengthen whistleblower rights.
The report details campaigns by Coalition members and others groups throughout the region working to strengthen whistleblower rights, support whistleblowers and defend them from reprisals.
Representing a major victory for activists, spurious criminal charges filed against whistleblowers at the Tuzla Kvarc mining company in Bosnia and Herzegovina were dropped. This followed an 18-month campaign by Coalition founding member Center for Responsible Democracy-Luna that made headlines across the country and the region.
Also, in Kosovo, Murat Mehmeti remains in his job at the Tax Administration after exposing a massive tax scam involving shell companies that his managers had been covering up.
In certain countries, however, new laws do not always protect citizens and employees from being fired, harassed, sued or even prosecuted. These findings are being leveraged to close dangerous legislative gaps that expose whistleblowers to career, personal and financial ruin.
In addition to discussing laws, practices and cases, the report rates the strength of legal protections in the 10 countries. The results are:
essentially no protections
Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova
very few protections and no designated law
a designated law or other legislation with a small number of essential standards
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro
a designated law with a moderate number of essential standards
Albania, Macedonia, Romania
a designated law with most essential standards
a designated law with all essential standards
The report was written by Coalition Co-Coordinators Mark Worth and Arjan Dyrmishi, with a foreword by Oliver Vujovic, Secretary General of the South East Europe Media Organization. It was co-published by the Coalition, Blueprint for Free Speech and the Romanian Academic Society, with financial support from the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC.
The report is a follow-up to “Whistleblower Protection in Southeast Europe: An Overview of Laws, Practice, and Recent Initiatives” published by the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI) in 2015. The Coalition thanks RAI for the permission to update this report.
A limited number of hard-copies of the report are available, free of charge. Please contact Kristina Stevancevic: firstname.lastname@example.org