Background of the project
Whistleblower protection has become an important instrument in fighting corruption. Unfortunately, in the CEE region, there’s only a very limited number of legislation implementing it.
Under Article 9 of the Civil Law Convention on Corruption adopted by the Council of Europe, parties of the Convention shall provide in its internal law appropriate protection against any unjustified sanction for employees who have reasonable grounds to suspect corruption and who report in new article good faith their suspicion to responsible persons or authorities. Under Article 33 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, state parties shall consider incorporating into its domestic legal system appropriate measures to provide protection against any unjustified treatment for any person who reports in good faith and on reasonable grounds to the competent authorities any facts concerning offenses established in accordance with the Convention.
Although persons (so-called „whistleblowers”) who disclose serious misconducts and threats to the public interest are often protected under law from employer retaliation, there have been many cases where punishment for whistleblowing has occurred, such as termination or suspension of employment, wage garnishment, and harsh mistreatment. Thus, Anglo-Saxon countries adopted acts (Whistleblower Protection Act in the USA, Public Interest Disclosure Act in the United Kingdom) dealing with this specific issue. As experiences show, this type of legal protection serves as an incentive to disclose information related to public interest and proved as a useful tool against corruption. However, in the Eastern Block, public interest disclosures are under-regulated, and as a consequence, potential whistleblowers stay silent.
K-Monitor Association and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union decided to organize a project on Legal Regulation of Public Interest Disclosures in Eastern Bloc Democracies. The two Hungarian NGOs created a virtual conference on whistleblowing protection with an interactive discussion surface in English as well as an online content in form of this website. For the implementation of the “virtual conference”, K-Monitor and HCLU also invited NGOs working in the field of anti-corruption from Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Poland, Moldova, and Hungary to take part in the project.
First, HCLU and K-Monitor provided the other NGOs with an initiating case study about methods and best practices from other countries as well as a questionnaire about their national legislation and the implementation of international treaties. Each participating country’s representative has written and uploaded their own country report about the legal regulation and case laws of public interest disclosures with consideration to specific topics.
HCLU and K-Monitor evaluated the country reports and prepared a summing study on the regional standards of whistleblowing in the region. After getting familiar with each other’s national legislation, partner NGOs started to discuss possible ways of implementing whistleblowers protection.
The long-term aim of the project is to create a cooperation of involved NGOs that will help them promote operable and efficient legal regulation in their home countries. With a better understanding and overview, and therefore a greater lobby power, NGOs will be prepared to propose minimum standard toward national legislators and will try to influence them.
Anticipated local impact of the initiative is the possible change in national legislation concerning whistleblowing protection allowed by the strengthened lobby activity and greater knowledge of participating NGOs. The project can also be important as it could serve as a good example of how to use ICTs to strengthen projects, in particular, to increase the level of information sharing before organizing a future workshop or meeting.
The project is sponsored by East East: Partnership Beyond Borders Program.
About the participating NGOs
K-Monitor Association was founded in 2007 as a watchdog organization with the aim of creating an independent non-governmental forum that keeps Hungarian and international corruption-related cases at issue. The association has created a website that makes all the corruption-related articles of online Hungarian media accessible, searchable and analyzable. The database is permanently updated with new articles and archive information as well. K-Monitor also has a toolkit of corruption and a whistleblowing blog.
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) is a non-profit human rights watchdog NGO established in Budapest, Hungary in 1994. HCLU is a law reform and legal defense public interest NGO in Hungary, working independently of political parties, the state or any of its institutions. HCLU’s aim is to promote the case of fundamental rights and principles laid down by the Constitution of the Republic of Hungary and by international conventions. Generally, it has the goal of building and strengthening the civil society and rule of law in Hungary and the CEE region.
List of the finalist NGOs and experts:
Slovenia: Društvo Integriteta – Association for Ethics in Public Service
Moldova: Transparency International Moldova (Lilia Carasciuc, internal expert)
Bosnia: Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina
Serbia: Transparency Serbia
Poland: Stefan Batory Foundation (Anna Wojciechowska-Nowak, internal expert)
Croatia: Dr. Snjezana Vasiljevic, Ph.D., Chair of European Public Law (expert)
Hungary: Transparency International Hungary (Ádám Földes, internal expert)