In democratic societies, whistleblowers play an important role in rule of law protection

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A conference on “Legal and practical challenges of protecting reporters of irregularities”, organised by the National School of Public Administration, the Office of the Ombudswoman, the House of Human Rights, the Embassy of the French Republic and the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration, took place on 16 December.

Minister of Justice and Public Administration, Mr. Ivan Malenica, presented the new Act on the Protection of Reporters of Irregularities, adopted by the Government at its 91th meeting.

In his speech, Minister Malenica underlined that Croatia is among the first EU Member States to adopt a comprehensive legal regulation of the system of reporting irregularities and protection of the persons reporting them, i.e. whistleblowers. 

“The 2019 Act established a system which enables potential whistleblowers efficient reporting of irregularities and adequate protection. The law aims at strengthening ethics, integrity and culture of reporting of irregularities, raising public awareness and encouraging citizens to report irregularities”, said the Minister. 

He emphasized that the new Act guarantees whistleblower protection regardless of the reporting channel and stipulates expressly that the persons who have reported irregularities anonymously but whose identity is subsequently established have the same status as those who have revealed their identity right away. 

Minister Malenica also highlighted the new provisions under which persons who report irregularities directly to European Union institutions are entitled to equal protection as those addressing the report to the Ombudsman.   
Additionally, he pointed out that the new Act would ensure protection not only for persons in employment, but also for a wide circle of persons such as volunteers, students, persons engaged under temporary service contracts, persons participating in public procurement procedures and those connected to employers in other ways. 

Reporters of irregularities will continue to have the right to judicial protection, damages, protection of identity and confidentiality, and the new law introduces the right to free primary legal aid, while protection in special judicial proceedings will continue to be exercised through special proceedings.
“In every democratic society, whistleblowers play an important role in the protection of the rule of law. It is our task to create an enabling environment and raise the awareness of all stakeholders about the importance of reporting irregularities. We believe that the new Act on the Protection of Reporters of Irregularities will contribute not only to strengthening the legal protection of whistleblowers, but also to strengthening citizens' awareness about the importance of reporting irregularities”, concluded the Minister.    
The conference participants were also addressed by the Ombudswoman, Ms. Tena Šimonović Einwalter, the Ambassador of France, H.E. Mr. Gaël Veyssière, and the Director of National School of Public Administration, Mr. Rudolf Vujević.