Transparency International (TI) Slovenia on 23 June, this year’s World Whistleblower Day, once again draw attention to the need to protect individuals who report suspicions of irregularities in the public interest.
Whistleblowers all over the world, including in Europe and Slovenia, are saving lives and billions of euros by revealing suspicions of corruption, wasteful use of public money, irregularities in public health and environmental protection. However, all too often, warns TI Slovenia, these brave individuals are threatened with retaliation for reporting. In a recent Transparency International World Corruption Barometer 2021 (GCB) survey for the European Union, almost two-thirds of respondents from Slovenia estimated that citizens are afraid of retaliation when reporting corruption, which is the third-highest share in the EU.
“In order to fight corruption more effectively and for a higher level of democracy, we need to adequately protect whistleblowers. Still, those who take revenge on whistleblowers all too often go unpunished. Retaliation can have a devastating effect not only on the social and economic status of whistleblowers but can also have devastating consequences for their mental and physical health. By transposing the EU Directive on the protection of applicants into our legal order, it would be easier to offer them adequate protection, “said Dr Alma Sedlar, President of TI Slovenia.
Transparency International Slovenia sent a letter to the new Minister of Justice Marjan Dikaučič last week, reminding him that despite the expiring deadline for the transposition of the Directive, the professional and general public in Slovenia are still not aware of the form in which Slovenia will transpose The directive and what legal solutions are planned by the ministry upon transposition.
As can be seen from the EU Whistleblowing Monitor website, progress in the transposition of the Directive in April and May 2021 was demonstrated by the several EU Member States, but Slovenia is not among them.
“When the Directive was adopted in 2019, we called on the authorities to ensure that its implementation is ambitious and advanced. We wanted Slovenia to become an example to others in the field of whistleblower protection. We are afraid this train has already left. However, we remain convinced of the need to present the transposition plan as soon as possible and to set up a broad working group of experts, including representatives of civil society, to take part in drafting the law. Last month, neighbouring Croatia did the same, “said Sedlar.
According to Eurobarometer surveys in 2017 and 2020 on the topic of corruption, the number of people in Slovenia who know where to report corruption is even declining. Within the framework of TI Slovenia, the “Spregovori! Centre” has been operating for several years, offering free advice on reports and protection to whistleblowers. The new application channel enables both anonymity and protection of the applicants’ identities, as well as subsequent communication of both anonymous and all other applicants with the counsellors of the Centre.