WIN is offering these Legal Briefs to all those interested in making whistleblowing work for Europe. They were developed with the expertise of Tom Devine, Legal Director of the Government Accountability Project in Washington DC, a co-founding member of WIN and Anna Myers, Executive Director of WIN.
They are based on 40 years of experience defending whistleblowers through the courts and in the public domain and advising governments around the world on the legislative reform needed to protect those who speak up in the interests of others.
Right now, the EU is going through the process of debating and amending a draft directive to protect whistleblowers across Europe. We want to help the policy makers and legislators to get it right!
Our Legal Briefs focus on the significant problem of mandatory internal reporting which renders the entire draft directive structurally unsound; the need to remove the mandatory penalties for malicious and abusive reporting, a potentially fatal flaw which will substitute worse retaliation with a greater chilling effect than current job-based harassment; the necessity to get right the legal burdens of proof to give whistleblowers a fighting chance to succeed in seeking justice; the importance of protecting those who initially who raise concerns anonymously, and the need to ensure available remedies are adequate to buffer whistleblowers from the damage of a sustained professional and personal campaign to discredit them. There are also some important elements missing in the draft directive such as a duty to prevent harm and the need to train judges on whistleblower laws.
09/10/18 – WIN is pleased to provide an update from the Stefan Batory Foundation on the proposed whistleblowing law in Poland.
A year ago, a coalition of Polish NGOs – including the Stefan Batory Foundation, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Institute of Public Affairs and the Trade Union Forum – began working on a Citizen’s Draft Law on Whistleblowers’ Protection. They wanted to provide a strong model for whistleblowing legislation in Poland that met international best practice and against which any government proposals could be effectively measured. The current version of the Citizen’s Draft Law is available in English here.
The Citizen’s Draft Law proved its value almost immediately when, in late 2017, the Polish NGO coalition were able to present it as antidote to dangerous proposals on “whistleblowing” drafted by the Coordinator of the Special Services. The Special Services proposals were included in the Government’s draft law on transparency in public life. The Stefan Batory Foundation strongly criticised the proposals, as did WIN who sent a letter from international experts urging the Polish Government to reject the whistleblower protection provisions as not fit for purpose.
But work on a Citizen’s Draft Law on Whistleblowers’ Protection continued and, in April 2018, the Stefan Batory foundation and the NGO Coalition launched an independent public consultation. The launch was held at the first of two public meetings and so far the consultation has gathered over 100 comments which will be taken into account whilst the coalition prepares the final version of the Citizen’s Draft Law.
Anyone interested in effective whistleblower protection is encouraged to review the Citizen’s Draft Law on Whistleblowers’ Protection and submit their comments here!
05/10/2018 – WIN is delighted to highlight the success of Pištaljka‘s journalistic and legal teams who won a groundbreaking ruling in favour of a whistleblower in Serbia earlier this week.
The High Court in Belgrade ruled that five institutions, including the Ministry of Health, the prosecutor’s office and the Anti-Corruption Agency, retaliated against Dr. Borko Josifovski who, in 2006, reported that emergency medical teams were not assisting dying patients in order to get kickbacks from private funeral homes.
Dr. Josifovski was represented by Pištaljka’s lawyers, and key evidence to file the lawsuit was obtained by Pištaljka’s journalists. In a press conference with Pištaljka yesterday, Dr. Josifovski said that the verdict in his case should encourage other whistleblowers in Serbian to come forward.
The ruling is a crucial moment for the protection of whistleblowers in Serbia and proof that — owing to Pištaljka — the Whistleblower Protection Law has become fully effective and that Serbia, and especially its courts, lead the way for other European countries.
Pištaljka now expects a full investigation into Josifovski’s claims, especially given that a similar case in a town north of Belgrade is currently being investigated by Pištaljka.
More information on the ruling and on Dr. Josifovski’s case is available in Serbian via the Pištaljka website.
Issued today 31 August 2018
We, the undersigned, join the Government Accountability Project in expressing our concern about the decision of the Dutch Government to award the 2018 Human Rights Tulip to outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, on 3 September 3 in The Hague. Our concerns are based on the responses to individual OHCHR whistleblowers who disclosed information about serious human rights violations, including the sexual abuse of children by French peacekeeping forces in the Central African Republic. We urge the Minister to reconsider proceeding with the award until the UN High Commissioner resolves the outstanding cases of retaliation against the publicly vindicated whistleblowers in his own office.
Pištaljka (“The Whistle”), Serbia
Open Democracy and Advice Centre (ODAC), South Africa
Transparency International Netherlands, Netherlands
Riparte il futuro, Italy
Centre for Free Expression Whistleblowing Initiative, Canada
Transparency International Ireland, Ireland
The Ethicos Group, Australia
Speak Up, Speak Out Ltd., United Kingdom
See WIN letter to Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister including press release from the Government Accountability Project.
Grand Hall of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 5th – 6th June 2018
WIN Director, Anna Myers
A Loud Whistle, 5th June 2018
Photo credit: Zoran Raš for Pištaljka
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.