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Serbia

Whistleblower Protection Trainings and Campaigns (RS0006)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Serbia First Action Plan 2014-2015

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of justice

Support Institution(s): Anti-Corruption Agency Human Resource Management Office Civil Society Organizations

Policy Areas

Legislation & Regulation, Whistleblower Protections

IRM Review

IRM Report: Serbia End-of-Term Report 2014-2016

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

There is an increasing need to detect corruption, while the possibilities are reduced due to lack of adequate protection of persons willing to provide certain information on corruption of which they have direct knowledge.
Current protection of whistleblowers is regulated by provisions of several laws and bylaws (the Law on Civil Servants, Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance and Law on Anti-Corruption Agency, the Rulebook on protection of a person who reported suspicion of corruption), and it is limited in its scope for several reasons (definition of a person enjoying protection, the extent of protection, cases in which protection is provided, non-regulated field of sanctions for those who take revenge, indemnity, or awarding of whistleblowers). Therefore, it is necessary to establish a uniform legal framework by enacting legislation that will regulate this area in a comprehensive manner. In addition, it is necessary to build public trust and trust of persons who are potential whistleblowers, that their full protection will be provided by the adoption of the law. In that sense, ministry in charge of justice has prepared Draft Law on Whistleblowers Protection, conducted the public debate, and text of the Draft law submitted to the Government. Government has formulated the Bill and submitted it to the National Assembly for consideration and passing the Law.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 6. Whistleblower protection trainings and campaigns

Commitment Text:

     1.   Conducting professional training of civil servants in the state administration bodies, and employees at local self-government units, on procedures and importance of protection of whistleblowers, as prevention of corruption

                        a. developing a professional training program for civil servants and local self-
government units employees

                        b. conducting the professional training of civil servants and local self-government
units employees

      2.   Conducting campaign for raising awareness of citizens about rights and protection of
whistleblowers;

                        a. developing a program for the campaign

                        b. adoption of the program for the campaign

                        c. implementation of the campaign program

Responsible Institution(s): Ministry of Justice

Supporting Institution(s): Anticorruption Agency; Human Resource Management Office; CSOs

Start Date: Quarter II 2015                                          End Date: Ongoing

 

Commitment aim:

The commitment aimed at improving the knowledge of civil servants and local self-government employees on the rights and protections of whistleblowers through adequate trainings conducted by the Human Resource Management Office. It also aimed to inform the wider public through an awareness-raising campaign.

 

Status

Midterm: Substantial

While the government’s self-assessment report indicated that trainings were conducted for civil servants, the IRM researchers could not find reliable answers on whether trainings for local self-government employees were conducted, how many were held, if at all, how long they were, or how many civil servants attended. The awareness-raising campaign on the Law on the Protection of Whistleblowers was conducted in June 2015 with the support of the USAID Judicial Reform and Government Accountability Project (JRGA).[Note 24: Campaign Website, [Serbian] http://uzbunjivaci.rs/postupak.html ] The campaign website provides clear and concise information about the role, rights, and protection of whistleblowers. For more information, see the Serbian 2014-2015 midterm IRM report.

End of term: Substantial

While the awareness-raising campaign was completed substantially in the first year, and completely after the campaign was concluded, the trainings for civil servants remained with limited completion. The IRM researchers were not able to confirm how many trainings were held for civil servants and local self-government employees, but media sources confirm that over 500 trainings for judges were conducted.[Note 25: “Prva Presuda u Korist uzbunjivača u Novom Sadu,” RTV, 19 September 2016, http://bit.ly/2gaLeEH] The trainings were intended to continue in 2016, and the next training organized by the Human Resource Management Office is planned for 25 October 2016.[Note 26: The website does not give detailed information on past trainings. “Training Schedule,” Human Resource Management Office, Republic of Serbia, http://bit.ly/2g7ioTY ]

Did it open government?

Access to information: Marginal

Public accountability: Marginal

Whistleblowers are key actors in the fight against corruption, yet the level of their protection and awareness of their rights has discouraged potential whistleblowers. A law to protect whistleblowers was adopted only in 2014. With regards to this commitment’s aims, the trainings established in the commitment are still ongoing and the campaign’s impact can only be comprehensively assessed in the long term. Assessing the impact of the awareness-raising campaign would require longitudinal data about whistleblowing trends in Serbia, which currently are not available given that the law is still fairly new and data exists only for 2014 and 2015. Serbia’s Ombudsman evoked this conclusion in his 2015 annual report. Namely, the Ombudsman stated that it was too early to assess the impact of the law, but that the number of individuals seeking protection under the law increased from three individuals in 2014 to 13 individuals in 2015.[Note 27: Protector of Citizens: Ombudsman of Serbia, “Annual Report 2015,” Republic of Serbia, 15 March 2016, http://bit.ly/2eUdkGE] However, the effects of this commitment were limited given that, in the IRM’s consultative meeting in September 2015, civil society representatives outlined issues with the law.[Note 28: “CSO Held Consultative Meeting on Open Government in Serbia,” http://bit.ly/2eU95eb ] CSO representatives noted that it might not be good enough to convince citizens to become whistleblowers because it emphasized preventing corruption rather than protecting citizens,[Note 29: “CSO Held Consultative Meeting on Open Government in Serbia,” http://bit.ly/2eU95eb] and the law was not precise enough to protect them if they do report corruption.[Note 30: “Zaštita Uzbunjivača u Srbiji [Protection of Whistleblowers in Serbia],” Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS), June 2015, [Serbian] http://bit.ly/2fdJDLI]

Overall, this commitment had a marginal effect on access to information in the context of awareness-raising and enabling the protection of whistleblowers. The marginal effect is best seen in the limited increase in individuals seeking protection under the law. It can be explained by the facts that the campaign lasted for a short period of time and that the campaign’s promotional website, although it is concrete, informative, and accessible, does not provide space for interaction with citizens (e.g. for posing questions or doubts).[Note 31: Campaign Website, [Serbian] http://uzbunjivaci.rs/postupak.html]

By encouraging the prevention of corruption through the legal framework, but with limited awareness, this commitment has had a marginal effect on the number of individuals engaging in whistleblowing, with 10 additional individuals compared to the previous year.

Nonetheless, the IRM researchers noted that long-term effects of this commitment and its related activities could increase government openness. That largely depends on how the law is enforced. More precisely, the commitment’s impact could increase with adequate enforcement and when citizens and government representatives grow accustomed to the legal framework, the practice of whistleblowing, and the protection of whistleblowers, a relatively new concept in Serbia given that the Law on the Protection of Whistleblowers came into force only in 2014.[Note 32: Igor Jovanović, “Whistleblowers Get Better Protection in Serbia,” News, Balkan Insight, 5 June 2015, http://bit.ly/2gaPAfd]

Carried forward?

Although the commitment was not completed, neither the commitment nor commitments related to whistleblower protections are included in the 2016-2018 action plan.


Commitments

  1. Increasing transparency and participation in parliament

    RS0042, 2018, Civic Space

  2. Publishing Budget Law

    RS0028, 2018, E-Government

  3. e-calendar for financing civil society

    RS0029, 2018, E-Government

  4. publish data on environmental protection funds

    RS0030, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. opening data for public calls for media development

    RS0031, 2018, E-Government

  6. open data reports on CSOs

    RS0032, 2018, E-Government

  7. amending media registration bylaws

    RS0033, 2018, E-Government

  8. Assistance with and monitoring of adoption of LAP

    RS0034, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  9. Updating of electoral roll

    RS0035, 2018, E-Government

  10. ePAPER

    RS0036, 2018, E-Government

  11. e-notice board

    RS0037, 2018, E-Government

  12. Improving proactive transparency – Information Booklet

    RS0038, 2018, E-Government

  13. Access to Information Law

    RS0039, 2018, Capacity Building

  14. cooperation with CSOs on regulations

    RS0040, 2018, Capacity Building

  15. e-civic engagement

    RS0041, 2018, E-Government

  16. Develop a Model of Job Description or Part of Job Description of an Officer Responsible for Cooperation with Civil Society in Local Administration

    RS0014, 2016, Capacity Building

  17. Organise Trainings for Public Administration Officers in Connection with the Application of the Guidelines on Inclusion of Civil Society Organisations in the Process of Passing Regulations

    RS0015, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Organise Trainings for CSO in Connection with Application of the Guidelines on Inclusion of Civil Society Organisations in the Process of Passing Regulations

    RS0016, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Improve the System for Collecting Initiatives from Citizens and Businesses

    RS0017, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Introducing Standards for Civic Participation in the Public Policy Management System

    RS0018, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Improving Proactive Transparency – Information Booklet

    RS0019, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance

    RS0020, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  23. Development of an Open Data Portal

    RS0021, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Draft a Bylaw Based on the Guidelines for Evaluation of Websites

    RS0022, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Improve the Institute of Public Hearing in the Drafting of Laws

    RS0023, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  26. Development of a Uniform Methodology for Planning, Monitoring and Performance Evaluation of Programmes and Projects Implemented by Civil Society Organisations and Monitoring the Spending of Allocated Funds

    RS0024, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Amend the Regulation on Funds to Support Programmes or Missing Amount of Funds for Programmes of Public Interest Implemented by Associations

    RS0025, 2016, Capacity Building

  28. Enactment of a Law on Electronic Documents, Electronic Identification and Trusted Services in Electronic Business

    RS0026, 2016, Capacity Building

  29. Establish a Single Public Register of Administrative Procedures and Other Conditions for Pursuing a Business Activity

    RS0027, 2016, Capacity Building

  30. Transparency in Monitoring Budget Expenditures

    RS0001, 2014, Capacity Building

  31. Law on Financing Political Activities

    RS0002, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  32. Transparent Public Procurement Procedures

    RS0003, 2014, Open Contracting and Procurement

  33. Transparent Financing of Civil Society Organizations

    RS0004, 2014, Civic Space

  34. Extending and Clarifying Responsibilities of the Anti-Corruption Agency

    RS0005, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  35. Whistleblower Protection Trainings and Campaigns

    RS0006, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  36. Draft Law Regulating Inspections in Public Administration

    RS0007, 2014, Audits and Controls

  37. e-Governmental Portal Awareness and Mobile Application

    RS0008, 2014, E-Government

  38. Starred commitment Public Administration Website Harmonization and Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance

    RS0009, 2014, E-Government

  39. New Technologies to Improve Citizen Services

    RS0010, 2014, E-Government

  40. Cooperation with Civil Society Organizations in Public Policymaking

    RS0011, 2014, Civic Space

  41. Citizen Participation in Local Government Affairs

    RS0012, 2014, Public Participation

  42. Civil Society Participation in Monitoring the Public Administration (PAR) Strategy

    RS0013, 2014, Audits and Controls