The one million Euro, EU-funded project titled ‘Breaking the Silence: Enhancing the Whistleblowing Policies and Culture in Western Balkans and Moldova’, implemented by the RAI Secretariat, commenced on April 1, 2020. This is a three-year project, which will cover the following jurisdictions: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. The aim of the project is to help its partners in the government and non-governmental sector to:
• Improve the disclosure channels and protection mechanisms for whistleblowers by strengthening the legislative framework and institutional arrangements;
• Strengthen the capacity of civil society to support whistleblowing through public policy advocacy, public education, legal aid, and other support to whistleblowers;
• Enhance public awareness, especially of youth, about the importance of whistleblowing through a regional campaign, which will be sensitive to the individual context of each jurisdiction.
Whistleblowing is considered to be among the most effective ways to expose and fight crime and corruption in the public and private sectors. Based on previous research of RAI Secretariat on Whistleblower Protection in Southeast Europe, during the past decade, new whistleblower laws and practices have been conceived in all the abovementioned jurisdictions. At the same time, government agencies, CSOs, and the media are developing new expertise throughout the region to support whistleblowing through disclosure mechanisms to law enforcement, and other official channels, or the public, as well as the empowerment of whistleblowers and their protection.
This project will build upon previous experience of RAI Secretariat in improving whistleblowing practices, as well as results achieved to date in Western Balkans and Moldova. Some of the activities of the project include:
• Gap analysis of the existing legal framework on whistle-blower protection in the Western Balkans and Moldova and recommendations for improvements, especially considering the EU Directive on the Protection of Persons who Report Breaches of the Union Law adopted in September 2019;
• The assessment of whistleblowing institutional arrangements in Western Balkans and Moldova and capacity building based on a capacity needs assessment (e.g. training, expert advice, peer learning opportunities through annual stakeholder meetings);
• Public information and education campaign targeting the public, professional community, and youth.
While improvements to laws and institutional arrangements relevant to whistleblower protection are the first precondition to be met, changing the culture of silence requires a continued and orchestrated effort of all actors to demonstrate the support to whistleblower disclosures as one of the key tools in fighting corruption.
Taken together, when this project ends in 2023, RAI expects that:
• Disclosure channels and protection mechanisms for whistle-blowers in public institutions will be improved and civil society capacity strengthened
• General public, professional community, and public institutions will be more sensitized and informed about whistleblowing
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.