Several hundred whistleblower reports have been received almost a full year since the Whistleblowing Law took effect in Latvia, although only 25% meet the criteria, according to State Chancellery Director Jānis Citskovskis on February 26.
He revealed that the majority of the reports are in regards to tax avoidance, wasting government resources, officials not fulfilling their obligations, abuse of status, as well as procurement violations. Society still needs further education on what constitutes a whistleblowing situation, as apparent by the 75% of non-corresponding reports. Whistleblower violations are violations that have a broader impact on society.
“Residents are ready to report when they see that the state reacts, and at the same time protects their interests, their rights, so confidentiality is ensured,” said Citskovskis.
The State Chancellery plans on speaking more about the 2019 results in the afternoon.
As previously reported , in 2018 then-President Raimonds Vejonis promulgated the Whistleblowing Law, which is intended to encourage people to expose various violations and ensure that the whistleblowers are protected against possible retaliation. The law came into effect on May 1, 2019.
According to the law, persons who have a good reason to suspect that an administrative or criminal violation has occurred at a public institution are to report this to the authorities. The Law defines a whistleblower, how to spread alarm and stipulates the basic requirements for processing the whistleblower’s report.
The Law provides for several elements of whistleblower protection, for example, the prohibition to create adverse effects on the whistleblowers (to dismiss from a job, to punish, to demote etc.), if one has made a whistleblower report, the protection of the identity of the whistleblower and a free legal aid provided by the State.
The Law stipulates that to report (“spread alarm”) means to give professional activity related information in good faith on a possible infringement that can undermine public interest, if there are grounds to believe that this infringement is taking place, is being planned or has occurred.
Helpfully, Latvia’s government website has additional information about the law available in English.