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WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS POSITION LATVIA AS AN EXAMPLE OF OPEN GOVERNMENT

Following years of advocacy by civil society organizations and legislative preparations by a dedicated working group of experts, Latvia adopted a comprehensive Whistleblowing  law  in 2018, that came into force on May 1st, 2019.

For their collective work on these crucial protections enabling citizens witnessing  corruption, tax, health, environment and other violations observed in their work environment to come forth with their public interest reporting, Latvia’s State Chancellery, the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB), and Transparency International Latvia (Delna) are recognized by the Open Government Partnership (OGP) for their advances in making government more open, inclusive and responsive. OGP has selected these reform implementers to join the OGP Leaders Network, an initiative designed to showcase innovative reforms advanced by government and civil society reformers working together and to inspire others to advance reforms in different thematic areas.

Setting the legal grounds to protect whistleblowers is only the first step. Effectively implementing whistleblower protection laws is equally crucial and includes the creation of a variety of safe and easily accessible reporting channels and to protect the identity of whistleblowers and also provide support and protection guarantees to persons subject to reprisals. Together, the State Chancellery, KNAB and Delna are increasing public awareness on reporting of breaches, including corruption, and the protections provided under the Whistleblowing Law.

The State Chancellery, serving as the contact point of whistleblowers in Latvia, with its own dedicated awareness-raising and reporting website, welcomed the announcement and is keen to share their experiences in advancing whistleblower protections with fellow OGP members: “The essence of our Whistleblowing Law is a story about courage and responsibility of citizens, about our mutual trust and contributions for the development of our country – for reasons of public interest, said Mr. Janis Citskoviskis, Director of the State Chancellery at the “Whistleblowing: the Next Level” international conference.

Transparency International Latvia has been closely involved with whistleblower protections, supporting and consulting potential whistleblowers for more than 16 years. “It is a basic human right to blow a whistle and report wrongdoing. Whistleblowing strengthens citizens’ courage and helps us take responsibility for our society and country. The whistleblowing mechanism will only be successful if people in each institution and company understand the benefits of a functioning system and if every employee knows when, where and how to report wrongdoing,” Inese Tauriņa, Executive Director of Transparency International Latvia.

Latvia’s State Chancellery joins other government agencies including the Institute of Women in Mexico, New Zealand’s Stats NZ, the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation in the Planning and Budget Commission from the State of Kaduna, Nigeria, and the Council of Magistrates of the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina as members of the OGP Leaders Network. These agencies have a proven track record of delivery on ambitious reform agendas through their open government process in close collaboration with civil society partners. As experts in their reform topic, they will share technical expertise and strategic intelligence with other OGP members to support implementing similar reforms at the local and national level. To do so, they will work closely with the OGP Steering Committee, as well as OGP Ambassadors and Envoys.

“We are at a critical moment in history, amidst a confluence of a number of crises; from the most devastating pandemic in a hundred years and the worst global recession since World War II. If we can indeed join forces, like the reformers in the OGP Leaders Network, we can advance transformational reforms that put citizens at the heart of governance and build back more vibrant and inclusive democracies,” said Sanjay Pradhan, Chief Executive Officer of the Open Government Partnership.

More information -> OGP statement 

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