bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Saturday 17.11.2018 | Name days: Uga, Hugo, Uģis
LithuaniaLithuania

Lithuania will protect corruption whistleblowers, which will be hard in reality

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

The elapsing year of 2017 has marked the Lithuanian Government‘s increased efforts to harness corruption in the country.

The last legal action in the regard took place this week in Lithuania’s parliament, which passed a law ensuring confidentiality of persons reporting corruption and other offenses of officers and public servants. The law should take effect in January of 2019.

The law was supported by 70 parliamentarians, with nine abstentions.

The legislative piece, dubbed popularly as the whistleblower protection law, has stirred most ripples in the corruption tackling initiatives.

Under the law, from the moment of blowing a whistle on corruption, the whistleblower should be protected against disciplinary measures, dismissal, demotion, transfer to a different work position or any other actions, such as intimidation, harassment, reprisal, reduction of salary, change of work hours, etc.

The ban on the actions would be in effect for two years after the final decision in the investigation of the information provided by the person. The law also envisages a possibility to exempt the whistleblowers who was involved in the violations but later reported them to the authorities.

Among other things the law stipulates that, upon necessity, the whistleblower will receive legal immunity while the investigation is underway. And furthermore: the corruption buster will have his court-related fees covered by the state and the tipsters even will be eligible for financial incentives.

Proposed in September, adoption of the law was pressed amid Lithuania’s efforts to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The Lithuanian office of the non-governmental organization Transparency International says that the law meets the key requirements for whistleblower protection, however, notes a risk of indirectly assigning the protection of such persons to prosecutors only.

«The expediently adopted law will serve as a breakthrough in fighting corruption in public and private sector. It is an historic piece of legislation as it took Lithuanian entire 27 years – as many as Lithuania has been living independent – to pass the law laying out a mechanism of the whistleblower’s protection,» a LVŽS reads.

It will be applied not only to the corruption tipster from public sector but private sector too.

The Transparency International Lietuva (Lithuania) has long urged Lithuania to pass this kind of legislation but it failed to garner political support until now.

The NGO hailed the adoption, but cautioned that the law may be crippled if only the country‘s prosecutor general‘s office is obligated to ensure its implementation.

«Protection of the corruption whistleblower ought to become an urgent matter of all branches of law enforcement and furthermore: (it should become) part of every organisation and every company. Only with the approach we can expect tangible changes (in fighting corruption)» Sergejus Muravjovas, the chairman of Transparency International Lietuva (Lithuania) is quoted as saying by Lithuanian media.

«However, the legislation has be certainly seen as a stride forward.  Until now, we possessed a set of measures to protect the corruption whistleblower, however, they were not used and picked up dust in the drawers,» he accentuated.

Numerous online commenters and local politicians were overwhelmingly sceptic about the new law and casted doubt on its efficiency.

«Corruption and dirty business are inseparable…How can you expect the ruling party LVŽS to fight corruption with the law in hand if the party‘s leader (Ramūnas Karbauskis) has plenty of business interests in Russia…He is definitely dependable on the Kremlin and on its most influential players…The Conservatives were the only ones who spearheaded the Magnitsky Act (it bans entry to foreigners involved in large-scale corruption, money laundering or human rights violations starting next year. It will affect Russian nationals mostly, many of whom are well-known Russian entrepreneurs and Kremlin-linked politicians). Only the Conservatives can make change in corruption-ridden Lithuania,» says a post under an article on delfi.lt

Another online commenter also excoriated the LVŽS leader.

«Look, has not he said that he will let the Special Investigation Service, STT, run through his business records? He did not follow up on his promise. Shame!» reads the post.

«I want to see how the snitchers will be protected practically…I just have a hunch all will remain the same as it was until now – the snitcher will be doomed and terrorised, with no prospects of a decent job in the future,» other online poster reasoned.

Some of the politicians also shared scepticism whether the whistleblower law that will go into force from 2019 will make any change.

«Corruption is so rooted in in Lithuania that a single law, or even a package of legal acts, cannot have a major impact on the scourge. To me, it is all about mentality: we need to teach our children about transparency and accountability of our own actions and those by the surrounding environment from early days. With the extended rights of mayors, people in the municipalities, especially in those in the provinces, are too scared to say anything against the authority. I just don’t see the people braving up all of a sudden and daring to snitch a local big shot to law enforcement (over possible corruption). You just cannot be sure that the information won’t be leaked to the others and the whistleblower and his family will suffer at the end of the day as a result,» Eugenijus Simutis, a Council member of the Palanga municipality, told BNN.

According to him, there’s much nepotism in local municipalities.

«The response of the Palanga municipality to a request often depends what party of societal movement you represent. And the official answers are written that the complainer has no other alternative than go to court, but few resort to the measure due to the costs,» Simutis emphasised.

In tackling corruption, in September, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė initiated legislative amendments to fight illegal enrichment.

Although the legislature was adopted seven years ago and 357 pre-trial investigations were started thereafter, the majority of illegal enrichment-related charges were dropped, with the investigators pointing out to a set of loopholes in the law.

This autumn, the country‘s Financial Crime Investigation Service, FNTT, drew up a set of new criteria that now allow to more efficiency tackle corruption activities in the finance sector.

But all of this may not be enough though.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.5283


Leave a reply

PUC commences dispute between AS Gaso and natural gas consumer

On Friday, 16 November, Public Utilities Commission decided to commence a dispute procedure between a natural gas consumer and AS Gaso in regards to natural gas supplies, as confirmed by the commission.

Latvian parties continue informal talks while next prime minister is being picked

While President Raimonds Vējonis is busy picking the next prime minister candidate, politicians of different parties are performing informal consultations. No official consultations are currently planned.

UN's global migration compact stirs up Estonia's calm politics

The Estonian government has taken a long time to reach a unanimous position on the United Nation's Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This has been criticised by Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, who has to attend a conference in favour of the document in Morocco in December.

Latvian authorities detain CityCommerce Bank co-owner accused of embezzlement

Reinis Tumovs, co-owner of Ukrainian CityCommerce Bank, has been detained in Latvia. He is suspected of embezzling nearly UAH 300 million (EUR 9.5 million), as confirmed by Ukrainian National Police Economy Protection Department on Thursday, 15 November.

Russia ordered to pay damages for Navalny's political arrests by human rights court

Russia has been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights to repay 64 000 euros in damages and costs for politically-motivated arrests of Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.

Latvian president to consider Gobzems and Pabriks as perspective prime minister candidates

As parties’ efforts to form a new government continue, Latvia’s President Raimonds Vējonis plans to consider two new prime minister candidates – KPV LV leader Aldis Gobzems and Attīstībai/Par! candidate Artis Pabriks.

EC wants to reduce funding for supplies of fruits, vegetables and milk to schools

European Commission’s proposed regulation on organization of agriculture products market provides for reducing EU funding for the support programme on provision of fruits, vegetables and milk for schools by EUR 29.2 million or the same as United Kingdom’s share.

Genocide verdicts handed to Khmer Rouge leaders in Cambodia

In Cambodia, the two most senior living leaders of the Khmer Rouge Communist regime have been found guilty of their role in the atrocities that resulted in the deaths of at least 1.7 million in Cambodia between 1977 and 1979.

Latvian parties pick candidates to work in Saeima committees

Parties elected to the 13th Saeima have picked representatives to work in the parliament’s standing committees. Final decision will be made 20 November. Harmony may be represented by deputies Nikolajs Kabanovs and Jānis Tutins in Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Committee. Attīstībai/Par! has picked Artis Pabriks, and Union of Greens and Farmers has picked Uldis Augulis.

EU leaders: No appetite for renegotiating Brexit deal

EU leaders have dismissed talk of renegotiating the draft Brexit deal and warned the UK's political situation could make a «no-deal» more likely.

Some rain expected for Latvia’s centenary; cold snap expected next week

The sky will become clear every now and then. Still, some rain is expected for the country’s centenary. Wet snow is expected in the country’s eastern regions. It will be dry in the country for the most part next week, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Latvian ministry plans to form Media Ethics Council and develop Latvian Media Ethics Code

Culture Ministry has proposed forming Media Ethics Council. The majority of institutions of the media industry have started working on a self-regulatory council and development of a Single Latvian Media Ethics Code, as reported by the ministry’s public relations office manager Lita Kokale.

Harmony picks representatives in Saeima’s committees

Nikolajs Kabanovs and Jānis Tutins may become Harmony’s representatives in Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Committee, whereas Valērijs Agešins may become the party’s representative in the National Security Committee.

Lithuania’s corruption buster: firms donating to hospitals stand better chance in tenders

The majority of the winners of the tenders organised by major Lithuanian hospitals have expressed their gratitude to the health providers by making donations to them in the form of financial support.

Employment level in Latvia reached 65.3% in Q3 2018

920.1 thousand people or 65.3 % of Latvia population aged 15–74 were employed in Q3 2018. Over the year, employment rate grew by 1.7 percentage points and number of employed persons by 17.2 thousand.

Unemployment level in Latvia was 7% in Q3 2018

In Q3 2018 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 7.0 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.7 percentage points, while over the year by 1.5 percentage points.

AS PKL Flote enforces EUR 1.35 million from Riga Freeport authority in court

The Department of Civil Cases of the Supreme Court has ruled that the verdict of Riga Regional Court – one that penalized Riga Freeport authority for breach of Competition Law against PKL Flote – was correct. Now Riga Freeport has ten days, starting with 13 November, to pay the company EUR 1.35 million to cover damages caused by this violation, BNN was told by PKL Flote board chairman Sergejs Odincovs.

British government loses two more members; EU sets date for Brexit summit

In the UK government, Brexit minister Dominic Raab and Northern Ireland's junior minister have resigned in disagreement with the country's draft withdrawal agreement with the EU, already passed by the government.

Saeima deputy: data protection regulation will not protect «KGB associates»

Documents detailing KGB workers’ names, nationality, work place, participation in the Communist party are not covered by the Personal Data Protection Regulation, stresses Saeima deputy Ritvars Jansons from the National Alliance ‘All for Latvia’ – ‘For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’.

EP: Moldova and Georgia should continue initiated reforms

Members of the European Parliament welcome the reforms Georgia has commenced. At the same time, Moldova was criticized for its worsened state of democracy and rule of law, as reported by EP press-secretary in Latvia Signe Znotiņa-Znota.

Germany economy shrinks for first time in three years

Germany economy has contracted by 0.2% in the third quarter of 2018, a first such result in the largest economy of the European Union in over three years.

Latvian president gives parties holiday break to continue talks

Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis calls off nomination of NCP candidate Jānis Bordāns to for government. Talks regarding the next prime minister candidate will continue after the state holiday.

Ireland satisfied with Brexit draft deal in every priority

The government of Ireland has stated that draft withdrawal agreement between Irish neighbour, the UK, and the European Union, Dublin had achieved a satisfying result in all its priorities, also regarding the border on the island of Ireland.

Bordāns: NCP will not support Pabriks’ government because KPV LV will not support it either

If the President of Latvia decides to nominate Attīstībai/Par! member Artis Pabriks, KPV LV will not work in this government. New Conservative Party would take the same position, according to what politicians told Tieša runa programme of LTV.

British government supports draft Brexit deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May received the support of her government on the draft Brexit agreement the UK has reached with the European Union, which would see the UK remain in the EU customs union until the end of 2020.

Newest comments

What would you wish Latvia for its centenary?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Polls Archive



Category feed: Feed: