A group of NGOs and activists have formed a coalition to work for the passage of Ukraine’s first whistleblower protection law. The groundbreaking campaign is a key piece of civil society efforts to fight corruption, strengthen democratic institutions and enhance citizen participation.
Initiative 11 was launched by four Ukrainian organisations – the Ukrainian League of Lawyers for Combating Corruption, Media Law Institute, CenterUA and the Anti-Corruption Action Center – and one international organisation, Blueprint for Free Speech. Ukraine is one of 30 countries worldwide where Blueprint is working to strengthen whistleblower rights and protections.
The five founding members of Initiative 11 will work as a team to develop a whistleblower law to submit to Parliament, lobby for its passage, and raise political and public awareness of the critical need to protect government and corporate whistleblowers from retaliation and threats. Initiative 11 will also build networks with other groups to incorporate whistleblower protection into broader anti-corruption campaigns.
At the first meeting of its kind ever held in Ukraine, about 50 representatives from NGOs, institutes and government gathered in Kiev on 27 May to discuss Initiative 11’s goals and strategies. Speakers and participants included transparency and media activists, legal experts, investigative journalists, members of Parliament and government officials. By the close of the event, there was clear agreement that a comprehensive whistleblower law would provide many benefits to a country where reducing corruption is high on the public agenda.
The proposed law will reflect international best practices, including those developed by Blueprint for Free Speech, the Council of Europe and OECD. If passed, the law would be the fourth enacted in Eastern Europe since 2004.
Developing a whistleblower law is seen as a key pillar to Ukraine’s anti-corruption, free media and citizen participation strategy. A comprehensive anti-corruption law was passed in October 2014, and corruption is among the main concerns of citizens. Numerous NGOs and media organisations are working to increase accountability and integrity in government.
Many corporate and government whistleblowers in Ukraine have suffered reprisals in recent years.