Transparency International – Greece welcomes the adoption of new procedures for the protection of people who denounce serious acts of corruption as a first step towards the establishment of an integrated legislation for whistleblowing in Greece.
Law 4254/2014 (published in GG A85/7-4-2014) defines new guarantees towards the encouragement of providing reliable information to authorities, as the concern for retaliation and possible criminal prosecution constitute until today the most important suspending factors for citizens who desire to contribute in the fight against corruption.
Among the currently established measures for the protection of public interest witnesses are: protection from criminal prosecutions for perjury, slander, libel, breach of confidentiality or personal data and protection under the witness protection measures (f.e. 24h security, concealment of identity throughout the procedure, new identity etc.). For persons working in the Public Sector that decide to denounce corruption, there are additional measures such as, exclusion from dismissal or disciplinary proceedings or penalties, non-exemption from promotions, protection from unfavorable discrimination etc.
Corruption is a crime mainly taking place in the dark and people usually accept it as something ordinary. We fear to doubt if it’s right or wrong, trouble ourselves whether we should denounce it continue to accept it despite all its destructive consequences. “Fear for retaliation and possible legal consequences are the main reasons that hold back citizens who desire to engage themselves in the fight against corruption in Greece and to denounce corruption incidents”, states the Chairman of Transparency International – Greece, Costas Bakouris and continues: “We are in a position to assure this from our own experience through the “Transparency Now” helpline that offers free guidance to citizens who desire to report corruption incidents. In most of the 500 reports that we have accepted in a six month period, the fear of retaliation is dominant”.
Since September 2013, people who contact the Organization declare that are aware, have seen or heard about corruption incidents in their everyday life or in their workplace but are afraid to follow the encouragement of Transparency International and report to the appropriate authorities- even if there is the option of anonymous denunciation – as they feel vulnerable to significant dangers such as dismissal, court conflicts, public outcry or even threats against their lives.
In April 2013 Transparency International – Greece presented the report: “An Alternative to silence: Towards greater protection and support for the whistleblowers in Greece”, and promoted it to the Ministry of Justice members of the Legislation Committee, in order to highlight the significance of whistleblowing in the fight against corruption and the necessity of the adoption of an integrated legal framework in our country.
The recently voted law is a first step for the legislative establishment of whistleblowing in Greece. “What we, as Transparency International-Greece, ask from the government is to implement a complete and distinct legal framework for the protection of people who reveal information about corruption cases. This framework should be based on the International Principles for whistleblower legislation that Transparency International published in 2013 and have already been given to the Ministry of Justice. For us this is just the beginning for more bold decisions regarding the provision of concrete protection for citizens that dare to stand up against corruption”, underlines Costas Bakouris.
“We all have to understand that the revealing of corruption incidents is an act of courage and conscientiousness and must not be confronted as treason. Societies, institutions and citizens remain in a disadvantage when there is no one to stand up against corruption.”
Testimonials form whistleblowers (public interest witnesses) are a valuable source of intelligence regarding corruption cases and powerful tools against its containment. From the revealing of multimillion financial scandals to information on criminal acts, whistleblowers play a major role in saving resources and even human lives.
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