Protecting Whistleblowers in Central and Eastern Europe
On March 20-21, we brought together civil society actors from the region with academics, journalists, legal professionals, and other experts—including from the European Commission, the Whistleblowing International Network, and the International Bar Association—to discuss effective whistleblower protection and the challenges to it in the region and beyond.
Our participants, from all over Central and Eastern Europe, identified key issues such as the need for a bottom-up approach, ensuring practical support and access to information for whistleblowers. At the same time, a solid framework for reporting wrongdoing and protecting those who do so requires the right tone from the top and often a broader cultural shift towards more openness and transparency.
The EU Directive on whistleblower protection represents an important step towards this direction; however, in many Central and Eastern European countries, its implementation is still lagging.
According to Ida Nowers, Law and Policy Coordinator at the Whistleblowing International Network, “There is a lot of hesitation and confusion, particularly with regards to interpretation of the text of the directive and some strong opposing voices who are keen not to have a more progressive approach.”
The roundtable provided a valuable opportunity to discuss remaining gaps in implementation as well as examples of good practices, and it helped participants identify effective roles civil society can play in supporting tangible reforms at local levels. Notable among the initiatives discussed was the Slovakian independent whistleblowing authority, a model that was introduced to provide advice, assistance, and protection to whistleblowers as well as standards of effective institutional arrangements for employers.
We were pleased to be able to interview some of the experts joining us for this roundtable and to produce a video about the event and the important themes discussed. Watch it if you want to hear their perspectives on what is needed for effective whistleblower protection and what the challenges are in the region and beyond.