The two-day “Regional Workshop on Promoting Integrity in the Security Sector: Whistleblowing” took place in RACVIAC on 18-19 May 2022. The Workshop was organized in partnership with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) Secretariat. The overall objective of the Workshop was to equip relevant parties in the Security Sector with practical knowledge in the implementation of safe disclosure channels and effective protection of the persons reporting corruption through comparative case-law.
Whistleblowing is considered to be among the most effective ways to expose and fight crime and corruption in the public and private sectors. Although SEE jurisdictions adopted a legal framework on whistleblowing, there are cases of retaliation towards the whistleblowers and lack of their adequate protection and, thus, a lot needs to be done in respect of promoting safe disclosure channels, adequate protection of whistleblowers and change of public perception and culture of their negative stereotyping.
The Workshop was opened by MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, Director of RACVIAC and Ms Desislava Gotskova, Head of Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) Secretariat. Director Bazo, in his Introductory speech, stated: “Being aware of the fact that integrity and the fight against corruption in the defence and security areas present a universal challenge in the region, and considering that this specific topic needs to be treated multi-disciplinary, RACVIAC and RAI have been implementing joint activities since 2014. This Workshop is an excellent opportunity for the further development of regional cooperation on institutional integrity and fighting corruption through exchange of information and sharing of best practices.“ The Director complimented and thanked RAI for the outstanding cooperation as well as excellent topics and speakers.
Ms Desislava Gotskova, Head of RAI Secretariat, looked back on the longstanding and excellent cooperation with RACVIAC. “Together we have been organizing many conferences, and annual regional Workshops on the specific anti-corruption and integrity topics, applying a multidisciplinary approach with special focus on leadership commitment as a prerequisite for promoting public confidence and trust in the security sector. “She wished the participants a very successful Workshop, productive and open discussions, and a nice stay in Croatia.
The Workshop gathered more than 30 professionals from the region who manage whistleblowing cases and implement whistleblowing policies at the national level. Participants were expected to be proactive in delivering and deliberating on case studies.
One of the topics covered on the first day of the Workshop was “Whistleblowing and Whistleblower Protection in line with the EU Directive” delivered by Elmerina Ahmetaj Hrelja, RAI Project Manager – Anticorruption Expert. The topic “Corruption Reporting and Follow-up Action: Protection of Whistleblowers” was presented by Ms Dijana Kesonja, Deputy Director of Ombudswoman Office of Croatia, while “Whistleblower Protection and Witness Protection in Criminal Proceedings: The Practice of Special State Attorney Office of Croatia (USKOK)” was presented by Natasa Djurovic, Deputy Head of Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime – USKOK.
Day two was dedicated to exchange of practical experiences. The panellists were Ms Nataša Novaković, President of the Commission for the Resolution of Conflict of Interests, Croatia, Tom Devine, Legal Director of Government Accountability Project and RAI Whistleblowing Expert and Mr Mark Worth, Executive Director, Whistleblowing International, RAI Whistleblowing Expert.
RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation would like to thank RAI for organizing and successfully implementing this Workshop and looks forward to collaborating on another activity soon. It is great to have participants from all over the region share experiences and knowledge in the implementation of safe disclosure channels and effective protection of the persons reporting corruption in line with the international standards.