Members of parliament in the Republic of Cyprus are urgently making their way to the justice ministry to compare notes on whistleblowing protections legislation, as the country scrambles to meet an EU deadline next month.
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Charalambides criticized the government bill for 'lacking real protections', saying it did not protect the job of a bank employee who gets wind of money laundering and blows the whistle
According to local media, AKEL MP Irini Charalambides and fellow members in the House will meet with Justice Minister Stefi Drakou on Friday to discuss a government-sponsored bill aimed at implementing the EU’s Whistleblowing Directive and offering further protections to whistleblowers at the national level.
Charalambides was the original author of a bill back in 2016 aimed at defining rights and protections for whistleblowers, affording them legal protections against retaliation from employers or colleagues after speaking out on corruption.
But the government has proposed its own bill following an EU directive that called on member states to put in place “minimum standards” in an effort for the entire bloc to establish uniform protections for whistleblowers or “reporting persons” who report or publicly disclose information on breaches acquired in the context of their own work-related activities.
Cyprus has been among EU member states that made little or no progress on the issue while Friday’s meeting aims to compare the directive against proposed legislation to ensure compatibility.
Official: snitching not part of Cypriot culture
Last month the chairperson of the Commission for the Protection of Competition, Loukia Christodoulou, said her office’s efforts had failed to root out cartels because of the country’s closed society where snitching was not part of Cypriot culture.
“The problem in Cyprus in uncovering cartels is that it is a small community where everybody knows everybody,” she said.
Charalambides has previously criticized the government bill for lacking “real protections” for whistleblowers, saying for example there was no provision to protect the job of a bank employee if he or she gets wind of money laundering and blows the whistle.
“If we really want to combat corruption, we must prove it by adopting effective measures for the protection of the reporting person,” the MP said back in 2019.
EU: reporting persons in good faith must be protected
Two years ago, the European Parliament and the European Council adopted the Whistleblower Protection Directive requiring member states to set a minimum standard for the protections that EU member states must provide to whistleblowers, such as self-employed persons, shareholders, contracting staff, former employees, job applicants, and others.
Whistleblowers are people working in the private or public sectors who report alleged wrongdoing after having received information related to a breach of EU law in a work-related context.
The EU directive calls on states to afford protection from retaliation if it is established that the reporting person has blown the whistle in good faith and has reasonable grounds for believing the content of the disclosure is true at the time of making the report.