Grand Hall of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 5th – 6th June 2018
WIN Director, Anna Myers and Tom Devine, Legal Director of GAP were among key speakers attending the international conference hosted by WIN member organisation Pištaljka last month. Focusing on collaborative practice between journalists and whistleblowers, the conference brought together international experts, politicians and members of the Serbia judiciary to discuss the contributions that whistleblowers in the field of anti-corruption and how various actors including journalists and prosecutors can assist in protecting and assisting those who are making disclosures.
The conference also provided an insight into the exceptional work undertaken in Serbia by Pištaljka in the eight years since their founding in 2010 as an innovative journalism platform for the protection of whistleblowers. Drawing on their founders’ own experiences of facing retaliation and persecution as journalists reporting censorship and conflict of interest, Pištaljka has published more than 600 fully documented investigative articles that have frequently played a part in launching official investigations into corruption.
The organisation also runs a Whistleblower Helpline, offering a broad range of legal and journalistic assistance to whistleblowers – including free legal aid and court representation. Since 2014, Pištaljka’s lawyers have represented 20 whistleblowers in 44 cases and have provided broader legal assistance such as written advice and court submissions to whistleblowers on more than 1000
In addition to directly engaging with whistleblowers, Pištaljka were instrumental in the drafting and eventual adoption of Serbia’s Whistleblower Protection Law – the only one of its kind in the world that requires judges to be trained and certified to take on whistleblowing cases. Pištaljka has taken an active role in this certification process, delivering training to hundreds of judges, prosecutors and lawyers on the implementation of the Whistleblower Protection Law.
Throughout the conference, several Serbian whistleblowers offered powerful testimony concerning their experiences of speaking out against corruption and unlawful practices. Hearing from those with first-hand knowledge of the realities of whistleblowing highlighted many of the key issues at stake for those in attendance. More compellingly, however, it was a stark reminder of the high professional and personal costs involved for individuals who have made the decision to come forward and blow the whistle and, correspondingly, the need for robust and effective whistleblower protection in law and in practice.