Thirty-six people were granted whistleblower status in Lithuania in the first year since the respective legislation took effect, according to prosecutors. However, none of them received a financial reward for the information they provided.
The Law on the Protection of Whistleblowers was passed by the Lithuanian parliament in 2017 to protect individuals reporting on corruption or other wrongdoing. The law came into force in January 2019.
“We didn’t think employers could be inventive in trying to pressure workers,” said Gintarė Bliujienė from the Prosecutor General’s Office, adding that there were attempts to fire a whistleblower or reduce their pay.
According to Bliujienė, 80 percent of all reports received concerned suspected illegal activities in the public sector, such as fraudulent accounting, asset misappropriation, abuse, influence peddling, environmental damage and others.
Only 36 out of 68 people were granted a whistleblower status in the first year, she added.
Based on whistleblowers’ reports, five pre-trial investigations are currently underway and one of them has already reached court.
According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, seven employers were warned against exerting pressure on whistleblowers.
Four people last year sought a financial reward for the information they provided, but they did not meet the necessary conditions to be paid, according to the official.
The law prohibits employers from taking retaliatory measures against whistleblowers, such as dismissal, demotion, pay cuts, intimidation, harassment and threats.
A whistleblower may remain anonymous and is eligible for compensation for damages and a financial reward for reporting illegal activity.
The scheme is expected to encourage the public to take a more active role in exposing corruption.