Civil Society Organizations Urge President to Veto Law “Against Whistleblowers”

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Ukrainian CSOs call on President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to veto the law on whistleblowers passed on February 4. Despite a number of progressive provisions, the law restricts the rights of whistleblowers and weakens their protection, contradicts the very definition of “a whistleblower” and does not provide clear guarantees for reporting channel anonymity.

Due to the amendments passed in the Parliament, the law underwent a fundamental change. The law now effectively shifts the burden of proving the facts of a corruption offense to the whistleblower, which contradicts the procedural standards of proof and the very concept of the institution of whistleblowers.

For instance, a whistleblower must “know with certainty” and be able to confirm the facts of a corruption offense and report such information to the head of the institution where he/she works. Simultaneously, a whistleblower must know “with certainty” that this head is not involved in this offense. A separate issue to the very concept of internal channels. This significantly restricts a whistleblower, contradicts the original definition of this notion and invalidates the existence of internal reporting channels.

The amendments also indicate that a whistleblower must explain where he or she acquired the factual information on the committed offense.  This contradicts the basic principles of protecting sources of information and is effectively impossible, since the whistleblower is the source of information himself or herself.

All these requirements to whistleblowers and submitted reports can serve as an additional justification for recipients of corruption reports to ignore them.

In general, such initiatives of the Parliament do not meet international standards and best practices, distorting the idea of the previously developed draft law. The amendments violate the principle of the rule of law, generating legal uncertainty and collisions with other laws of Ukraine.

Whistleblowers are among the most effective elements of 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 all the positive aspects of the draft law that has been passed, it should not be signed into law in this form. The public urges the President of Ukraine to veto the law “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine to Settle Certain Issues of Whistleblower Protection” (No. 3450) and return it to the Parliament of Ukraine for further improvement.

Transparency International Ukraine

Anti-Corruption Research and Education Center in Ukraine (ACREC)

Anti-Corruption Action Center

Institute of Legislative Ideas

Digital Security Laboratory

Institute of Mass Information

Authorities Monitoring Center

CSO Agency for Urban Initiatives

CSO Regional Press Development Institute

Women’s Anti-Corruption Movement

Blueprint for Free Speech

Effective Solutions Agency

Rivne Center for Social Partnership

All-Ukraine Union Automaidan

CSO Labor Initiatives

The DEJURE Foundation

CSO Smart Media

Kharkiv Anti-Corruption Centre

CSO Center for Public Monitoring and Analytics

Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM)

Human Rights Centre ZMINA

CSO Human Rights Platform