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NGOs called Zelensky to veto whistleblowers law

08.02.2021, 18:30

Ukrainian NGOs called on the President Volodymyr Zelensky to veto Law №3450 “On Amendments to Some Legislative Acts of Ukraine Concerning the Regulation of Certain Issues of Protection of Whistleblowers” ​​and return it to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for revision. This is stated in the statement of public organizations on the law adopted on February 4.

The experts noted that despite a number of forward-looking rules, the law restricted the rights of whistleblowers and weakened their protection, contradicted the very definition of "whistleblower" and did not provide clear guarantees for the anonymity of sources.

The authors of the statement noted that due to the amendments passed in the parliamentary hall, the law  had some "actually fundamental changes". 

“In fact, the law now shifts the burden of proving the facts of a corruption offense to a whistleblower, which contradicts the procedural standards of proof and the very concept of the institution of whistleblowers. Thus, the whistleblower must "accurately" know and confirm the facts of a corruption offense and pass such information to the head of the institution in which he works. At the same time, the whistleblower must also "know for sure" that the superiors are not involved in this offense. A separate issue to the very concept of internal sources. This significantly limits the whistleblower, contradicts the original definition of this concept and eliminates the existence of internal channels of communication, ” the statement read. 

The amendments also stipulate that the whistleblower must explain where the information about the offense came from. This, the statement said, contradicts the basic principles of protecting sources of information and is in fact impossible, as the whistleblower himself is a source of information about corruption fact.

“All these requirements for whistleblowers and submitted messages can serve as an additional justification for recipients of messages to ignore them. In general, such initiatives of MPs do not meet international standards and best practices, distort the idea of ​​a previously prepared bill. "The amendments violate the principle of the rule of law, creating" legal uncertainty "and create conflicts with other laws of Ukraine," the statement said.

The authors of the statement noted that whistleblowers were one of the effective elements in the anti-corruption system. They make it possible to increase the transparency of the public sector and stop abuses. An effective whistleblower institution can have a real impact on the level of corruption.

"Despite every progress made in the adopted law, in this form it has no right to exist. The civil society calls on the President of Ukraine to veto the Law “On Amendments to Some Legislative Acts of Ukraine to Regulate Certain Issues of Protection of Whistleblowers” ( №3450 ) and return it to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for revision, ”the statement read. 

The statement was signed by:  Transparency International Ukraine,  Interdisciplinary Research and Education Center for Combating Corruption in Ukraine (ACREC), Center for Combating  Corruption,  Center for Political and Legal Reforms (CPRR),  All-Ukrainian Association "Avtomaidan",  Institute of Legislative Ideas,  Digital Security Laboratory,  Institute of Mass Information, Government Monitoring Center,  NGO Agency for Urban Initiatives,  NGO Institute for Regional Press Development,  Women's Anti-Corruption Movement,  Blueprint for Free Speech,  Agency for Effective Solutions,  Rivne Center for Social Partnership,  NGO Labor Initiatives,  DEJURE Foundation ,  NGO Smart Media, NGO Association of Political Sciences.

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