Czechia: Two government advisory bodies discuss the Draft Law on the protection of whistleblowers
November 27, 2020
The Government Council for the Coordination of the Fight against Corruption recommended to the Government of the Czech Republic to approve the proposal on its meeting on Nov. 24, 2020. At the same time, it recommended that the bill and the related amending law be submitted to the Chamber of Deputies (the 1st reading) by the end of January 2021. On Thursday, Nov. 26 2020, the Legislative Council of the Government suspended the discussion of the Draft Law, the text will be modified according to the comments of the members. The government should decide on the protection of whistleblowers by the end of this year. The law still has a chance to be approved in this election period, even in time within the deadline set by the European directive.
Czech NGO Oživení reflects on the legislative procedure, finding that the attitude of government officials (especially the Ministry of Finance) seems absurd: an external body (whether it will be a department of the Ministry of Justice, the Office of the Ombudsman or the Office for the Supervision of Political Parties and Movements) will get no budget, only new agenda. The effective implementation of the law is thus jeopardized.
Czechia: The Draft Law on the Protection of Whistleblowers submitted to the Government
October 06, 2020
The Ministry of Justice has submitted the Draft Law on the Protection of Whistleblowers to the Government on Sept. 30, 2020. The Governmental Legislative Council and its individual working commissions have 60 days to review it. The meeting of the Governmental Working Committee for Whistleblowing as well as the meeting of the Government Council for the Coordination of the Fight against Corruption are planned to discuss the Draft and the comments of the Governmental Legislative Council later on in November.
What has changed following the inter-ministerial commentary procedure:
the protection is provided to all whistle-blowers without distinction (i.e. procedural protection in court proceedings);
the Draft explicitly states that it is possible to report anonymously;
the protection of confidentiality of whistleblowers, persons concerned and of the disclosure itself has also been improved;
the Draft also clarified the relationship with other relevant legislation (e.g. AML legislation). The Draft newly used the option (by the EU Directive) to exclude information in the area of the so-called substantial security interest to disclose.
The problematic external reporting body remained within the authority of the Ministry of Justice;
Also, the Draft in its current form (due to the explanatory memorandum attached to the Draft) raises doubts as to whether it will or will not be necessary for the whistleblowers to fulfil the condition of good faith.
Czechia: Ministry of Justice to prepare detailed impact assessment after criticism of whistleblowing proposals
September 03, 2020
Following the inter-ministerial commentary procedure on the Draft Law on the Protection of Whistleblowers in the Czech Republic (in August 2020), the Governmental Working Committee for Whistleblowing (Pracovní komise předsedy Rady vlády pro koordinaci boje s korupcí k whistleblowingu) discussed the comments of its members (NGOs including). The criticism was directed to the design of the “agency” which is formed as a department of Ministry of Justice as the so-called external notification system, while representatives of non-profit organizations argued for its lack of independence. The Ministry of Justice does not agree with such an opinion. Nevertheless, based on the request of non-profit organizations and some other Ministries, the Ministry of Justice will prepare a more detailed impact assessment and cost calculation of variants, which is the agency covered by the Office for Supervision of Political Parties and Political Movements and the Office of the Public Defender of Rights. The Draft is to be presented to the Government in September 2020 in order to have the chance to be passed in a standard legislative process in this election period. However, the Council of the Government for the coordination of the fight against corruption, which is to review the draft ahead of the meeting of the Government, is scheduled to November 2020.
The representatives of the public sector, academics, as well as CSO´s reps, will meet at an international online conference organized by University of Lodz on Sept. 25, 2020, to review the whistleblowing protection in V4 countries, France and Slovenia and to search for an effective model of protection.
Czechia: Anticorruption NGOs Rekonstrukce státu (Frank Bold and Oživení) and Transparency International ČR comment on new law on the protection of whistleblowers: It provides only insufficient protection
July 30, 2020
So far, there is no legal regulation in the Czech Republic that would comprehensively address the protection of whistleblowers. A good law can significantly strengthen the protection of the public interest and prevent wasteful behavior. Although the current proposal of the Ministry of Justice meets the requirements for a functional system of whistleblower protection in many respects (eg by a broad definition of whistleblower or by reflecting the importance of internal reporting), it does not fulfill the full potential of the law. NGOs see the main problem in the nature of the body (called the "Agency") that whistleblowers will turn to. They also propose simplifying the distinction between types of notifications, strengthening the principles of confidentiality of notifications, and explicitly allowing anonymous notifications. In addition, the proposal does not transpose the European directive sufficiently on a number of points.
Additional link: https://www.transparency.cz/zakon-o-whistleblowingu-v-navrhovane-podobe-nezajistuje-oznamovatelum-dostatecnou-podporu-a-ochranu/
Czechia: Pirates and nonprofits criticize the government's proposal to protect whistleblowers. Reporting corruption could pay off
July 27, 2020
The new law on the protection of whistleblowers is criticized by non-profit organizations, Pirates and the opposition parties. The agency is to be subordinated directly to the Ministry of Justice, Lukáš Černohorský, the head of Pirate MPs, stated 'I am afraid, it will not gain the trust of its citizens'.
Czechia: The Czech Ministry of Justice has presented a new draft law on the protection of whistleblowers
June 30, 2020
The comment procedure is open for 30 days. Deputy Minister Jeroným Tejc told the press. The Czech legal system still does not contain the regulation of so-called whistleblowing. The proposal introduces, among other things, new offences, both the offence of retaliation against the whistleblower and the offence of knowingly false notification.
Alternate link: https://www.novinky.cz/domaci/clanek/stat-ochrani-oznamovatele-nepravosti-40329708
Czechia: Czech Minister of Justice has promised to have the legislative draft ready by September 2020
Reconstruction of the State
May 20, 2020
The Czech Minister of Justice has recently promised to have the legislative draft ready by September 2020 as a response to NGOs, Rekonstrukce státu appeal to support the whistleblowers by speeding up the legislative process and by adopting safe and effective internal whistleblowing channels immediately after a joint NGOs appeal.
However, it is worth remembering that the Czech Ministry of Justice has promised to present the legislative draft in November 2019, February 2020, April 2020, now September 2020. The English translation of the Reconstruction of the State article is below:
'The newly proposed Anti-Corruption Whistleblower Protection Act should soon enter the interdepartmental round of comments. In response to a recommendation of the Rekonstrukce státu (Reconstruction of the State) initiative, the Justice Minister Marie Benešová promised to speed up the implementation of the European regulation. The new law should protect and support public administration staff who encounter a wrongdoing in the workplace and are willing to blow the whistle. This anti-corruption measure could significantly improve protection of the public interest and prevent uneconomic behaviour.
Speeding up the adoption of the law that would protect whistleblowers reporting corruption was recommended to the government by Rekonstrukce státu in its Nezhasínat! (Don’t Switch Off the Lights!) project in early May. In order to address the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the state is spending hundreds of billions of public money and quickly buys protective equipment. That is why it’s now particularly important to strengthen transparency and prevent corruption in public administration.
We made an appeal to the government to improve whistleblower protection as soon as possible and provide a tool that would make it possible to report corruption behaviour securely. “There is no Czech law that would comprehensively address whistleblower protection. Potential whistleblowers currently have no way to report a wrongdoing that would provide a guarantee of anonymity and prevent the risk of them being identified and retaliated against. That’s one of the reasons why employees as well civil servants blow the whistle only very rarely,” explains Marek Zelenka from the NGO Oživení who is Rekonstrukce státu’s expert on this issue.'
'Minister Benešová promised to speed up discussion
In response to our recommendation, the Justice Minister Marie Benešová promised that she would try to submit the whistleblower protection bill as soon as possible. “I agree that a regulation on the protection of whistleblowers who report corruption and other wrongdoings can save public money, prevent damage to the environment and protect other public interests. This regulation must therefore become part of the Czech legal environment as soon as possible,” she said in a letter addressed to Rekonstrukce státu.
Following a European regulation, the government is obliged to implement whistleblower protection in Czech law by December 2021. So far, the process has been far from smooth. Even though the legislative plan expects the bill to be submitted by September this year. “Given the expected length of the legislative process in the Parliament and the necessity of this legal regulation, I can promise that I will attempt to submit the bill earlier,” says the minister. She also added that in the coming weeks, the draft bill should be sent to the other ministries for comments.
“We appreciate that Minister Benešová considers the whistleblower protection act a priority. Anti-corruption organisations will be ensuring that the state establishes a trustworthy body that whistleblowers will be able to turn to and that will effectively protect them against retaliation,” says Věnek Bonuš, an analyst at Rekonstrukce státu, in response to the letter.'
Czechia: The transposition of EU Directive on Whistleblowing into Czech Law under preparation.
October 08, 2019
In the Czech Republic, civil servants from the Ministry of Justice are preparing a bill on the transposition of EU Directive on whistlblowing
Czechia: Czech Whistleblowing Working Commission discuss transpostion possibilities
September 26, 2019
The Czech Whistleblowing Working Committee discussed the possibilities of transposing the draft European Whistleblower Directive into law. The Council of Ministers must approve it at European level before transposition by the Ministry of Justice, which should take place in October this year.