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Croatia

Protection of Persons Reporting Corruption (HR0031)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Croatia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Justice

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption, Anti-Corruption Institutions, Legislation & Regulation, Legislative, Open Parliaments, Whistleblower Protections

IRM Review

IRM Report: Croatia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Measure 6. PROTECTION OF PERSONS REPORTING CORRUPTION
Implementation of the measure is under way until December 2018
Leader of the measure MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
Description of the measure
Which public issue does the measure address? A law must be passed to protect persons who report instances of corruption,
since the current model for protecting whistle-blowers is restricted to court
protection, or rather the relevant provisions are found in various laws, and
are restricted to protection in the sense of launching court proceedings for
reprisals which the whistle-blower has suffered at their place of work. An
analysis conducted by the Ministry of Justice has shown that it is necessary
to assure anonymity in order to encourage potential whistle-blowers to report
potentially illegal acts.
What does the measure include? The measure requires the establishment of working groups to draft the Act,
the production of the draft Act, and its adoption. The new Act must ensure
the construction of an institutional framework for reporting irregularities
efficiently and swiftly, and the effective legal protection of those who report
them. It must also improve the potential for exposing those guilty of criminal
acts of corruption, and raise the level of transparency, ethics and integrity in
society as a whole.
How does the measure contribute to resolving the
public issue?
The adoption of the Act should prescribe the formation of a system which
will enable potential complainants to report effectively on irregularities and
provide adequate protection for their integrity, with the aim of raising public
awareness among employees and citizens of the need to report illegal and
corrupt behaviour, and improve the accountability and transparency of the
work of the public sector in general.
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Why is this measure relevant to the values of the
Open Government Partnership?
The measure is relevant to transparency because it contributes to publishing
information and improves public access to information, since whistle-blowers
provide the public with information which is in the public interest. Indirectly,
the measure is relevant to public accountability, because it improves the
rules and mechanisms relating to whistle-blowers, and thus holds civil
servants and officials accountable for their actions.
Additional information No extra resources are needed for the implementation of the measure.
The measure is in accordance with the following documents:
- Action Plan for 2017 and 2018, accompanying the Anti-Corruption
Strategy 2015-2020
- The Anti-Corruption Strategy 2015-2020
Activities Implementation start date Implementation end date
6.1. Drafting the Public Interest Disclosure Act Underway December 2018
Contact information
Person responsible in the body which is Leader of
the measure
Maja Baričević
Function, department Head of the Anti-Corruption Sector
Email and telephone maja.baricevic@pravosudje.hr, + 385 1 3714 204
Other participants
involved
State participants
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NGO, private sector,
multilaterals, working groups
Number and titles of activities 6.1. Drafting the Public Interest Disclosure Act
Implementation indicators: - Setting up a working group to produce the draft Act
- Production of the draft Act
- Adoption of the Act by the Government of the Republic of Croatia
Financial resources required: Resources are guaranteed in the State Budget within the regular work of the Ministry of Justice,
activity A629000 Administration and Management.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

6. Protection of Persons Reporting Corruption

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

"Measure 6. Protection of Persons Reporting Corruption" [47]

The adoption of the Act should prescribe the formation of a system which will enable potential complainants to report effectively on irregularities and provide adequate protection for their integrity, with the aim of raising public awareness among employees and citizens of the need to report illegal and corrupt behaviour, and improve the accountability and transparency of the work of the public sector in general. (…) No extra resources are needed for the implementation of the measure."

Milestones:

6.1. Drafting the Public Interest Disclosure Act [48]

  • Setting up a working group to produce the draft Act
  • Production of the draft Act
  • Adoption of the Act by the Government of the Republic of Croatia

Start date: Underway

End date: 31 December 2018

Context and Objectives

In Croatia, whistleblower protection has been regulated for years under legislation including the Criminal Act, Labour Act, and Civil Service Act and internal regulations of public, private, and civil sectors. After conducting an analysis, the Ministry of Justice found it necessary to strengthen this legal framework as it found that whistleblowers still faced significant problems. This was a change from the Ministry’s prior position that further protections weren’t necessary given existing legislation. [49]

This commitment is a direct continuation of Milestone 1.4 from the second action plan, [50] which is also present in the Anti-Corruption Strategy from 2015-2020 [51] and its accompanying action plan. [52] As Measure 63 from the Anti-Corruption Strategy Action Plan was not completed by the set deadline, it was rolled over into the OGP action plan.

This commitment is specific and verifiable. The commitment is relevant for public accountability as it calls for mechanisms to protect whistleblowers hold public authorities swiftly accountable for misallocating funds, violating human rights, and legal infractions, If the Act on Protection of Persons Reporting Corruption is adopted and upheld, the impact of the commitment would be transformational. Whistleblowers face many hardships in Croatia–they often lose employment, struggle to find new jobs, face difficulties in achieving satisfactory results through the judicial system and receive threats and violent consequences from their accused and the public. [53] This Act offers them stronger protection and three direct modes for reporting an issue (internal, external, and public).

Potential negative aspects were voiced by the members of opposition parties in the Croatian Parliament during the discussion on the Act, [54] and reiterated by CSOs. [55] These include insufficient funding for the Office of the Ombudsman in pursuing external reports of corruption; lengthy deadlines for adopting internal regulations in public and private entities (nine months after the Act becomes fully effective); and no free legal aid or psychosocial support to whistleblowers.

Next steps

The IRM researcher proposes that the lead institution use the remaining time during implementation to:

  • Ensure public and private entities subject to the Act are in compliance with its provisions, especially with adopting internal regulations and naming persons responsible for overseeing these regulations;
  • Monitor and publish a report on corruption reported both externally (with the Office of the Ombudsman) and publicly after the Act comes into effect; and
  • Consider international input and recommendations on drafts of the Act, e.g., from OECD, SIGMA, and/or the Council of Europe.

Relevant public administration bodies could also consider next steps:

  • Train (e.g., webinars) public and private entities subject to the Act as well as persons involved in its implementation;
  • Ensure the Office of the Ombudsman has enough funding to implement the Act in the upcoming years, in line with the increased scope of work;
  • Create and disseminate a citizen guide about new legal provisions, using structured and easily accessible information, and encouraging anti-corruption behavior;
  • Raise awareness about available methods of protection for whistleblowers; and
  • Ensure participation in the legislative procedure and strengthen whistleblower protections to be in line with EU legislation. [56]

Commitments

  1. Implementing Right to Information

    HR0026, 2018, Access to Information

  2. Fiscal Transparency

    HR0027, 2018, Access to Information

  3. Political Finance Transparency

    HR0028, 2018, Capacity Building

  4. Commercial Regulations of Companies Owning Local Governments

    HR0029, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  5. Transparency in NGO Project Finance

    HR0030, 2018, Capacity Building

  6. Protection of Persons Reporting Corruption

    HR0031, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  7. Parliamentary Transparency

    HR0032, 2018, E-Government

  8. Media Regulations Framework

    HR0033, 2018, Civic Space

  9. Data Opening

    HR0034, 2018, Access to Information

  10. Raising Awareness About Open Data

    HR0035, 2018, Access to Information

  11. Central State Portal

    HR0036, 2018, E-Government

  12. Public Consultations

    HR0037, 2018, Capacity Building

  13. Implementation of Anti-Corruption Policies by NGOs

    HR0038, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  14. Local and Regional Open Government

    HR0039, 2018, Access to Information

  15. OGP Sustainability

    HR0040, 2018, Capacity Building

  16. Right to Access Information Legislative Framework

    HR0010, 2014, Access to Information

  17. Improving the Implementation of the Right of Access to Information Act

    HR0011, 2014, Access to Information

  18. Starred commitment Proactive Release of Information and Opening Data

    HR0012, 2014, Access to Information

  19. Fiscal Transparency

    HR0013, 2014, Capacity Building

  20. Starred commitment Improvements of Transparency and Efficiency in Public Administration Work

    HR0014, 2014, Capacity Building

  21. Improvement of Transparency of Election and Referendum Campaigns

    HR0015, 2014, E-Government

  22. Transparency in the Area of Youth Policy

    HR0016, 2014, E-Government

  23. Media Transparency

    HR0017, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  24. Improving Transparency of Information on Members of Parliament and Their Work

    HR0018, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  25. Improving Transparency of Data on Assets of Officials

    HR0019, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  26. Starred commitment Improving the Consultation Process with the Interested Public in Legislative Procedures

    HR0020, 2014, Capacity Building

  27. Ensuring the Sustainability of Values and Content of the OGP Initiative

    HR0021, 2014, Capacity Building

  28. Starred commitment Participation in Drafting the New Anti-Corruption Strategy

    HR0022, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  29. Regulation of Lobbying

    HR0023, 2014, Capacity Building

  30. Improving Efficiency of the Ministry of Interior's Complaints Commission

    HR0024, 2014, Justice

  31. Promoting Civil Participation in the Work of Civil Society Organizations

    HR0025, 2014, Civic Space

  32. Improving the Content and Transparency of Budgetary Documents: Publish and Update the State Budget Proposal

    HR0001, 2012, Fiscal Openness

  33. Improving Transparency of Business Activity of the Companies of Special State Interest

    HR0002, 2012, Private Sector

  34. Making the Contents of All Budgetary Documents Understandable and Accessible to Citizens

    HR0003, 2012, Fiscal Openness

  35. Improving Accessibility of Local Budget Contents to the Citizens and the Public: Give Recommendations to Local Units to Publish Budget Documents

    HR0004, 2012, Fiscal Openness

  36. Starred commitment Improving the Legislative Framework for Exercising the Right of Access to Information: Amend the Act on the Right of Access to Information

    HR0005, 2012, Access to Information

  37. Starred commitment Improving Access to Information on Expending Public Resources and Contents of Relevant Registers: Implementation of Acts on Political Activity and Campaign Financing

    HR0006, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  38. Ensuring Transparent Work of Public Authority Bodies in the Service of Exercising Citizen Rights: Enhancement of Web Portal with Info on Exercising Rights

    HR0007, 2012, E-Government

  39. Starred commitment Setting up a System of Participatory Drafting and Monitoring of State and Local Budget Implementation: Public Discussions on Budget Allocation

    HR0008, 2012, Fiscal Openness

  40. Starred commitment Improving the Practice of Consulting the Interested Public in Procedures of Adopting New Laws: Amend Procedural Rules

    HR0009, 2012, E-Government

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