Contact us!

+382 20 513 687

Close this search box.

The Annual Meeting of the Southeast Europe Coalition on Whistleblower Protection held in Podgorica

The annual meeting of the Southeast Europe Coalition on Whistleblowers Protection was held today in Podgorica. The topic of this year’s meeting is the role of whistleblowers in society, as well as the transposition of EU Directive 2019/1937 on the protection of whistleblowers into the legal system of Montenegro. The event was organized by the Civic Alliance in cooperation with the Center for the Study of Democracy and Governance from Albania, as well as the   Southeast Europe Coalition on Whistleblowers Protection, with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) from the United States of America.

The meeting is a platform for discussion on common challenges, strategies, and solutions to improve the protection of whistleblowers, as well as how to best use the Coalition’s resources. The event gathered members of the Coalition, representatives of state institutions in Montenegro, as well as other key figures from civil society, such as prominent whistleblowers in Montenegro and civil society activists who make a great contribution in the field of whistleblowing and the fight against corruption. In addition to the participants from Montenegro, the event was attended by representatives of civil society organizations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Moldova, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia.

Mr. Ricardo Serri, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation in Montenegro, Nikola Naumovski, Anti-corruption Advisor in the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI), Pavle Ćupić on behalf of the Civic Alliance, and Arjan Dyrmishi on behalf of the Coalition for the Protection of Whistleblowers in Southeast Europe spoke in the introductory part. Speakers emphasized the importance of whistleblowers in the fight against corruption.

Arjan Dyrmishi pointed out that the activities and efforts of the Coalition have led to significant impacts, from legislative activities such as advocating or supporting the adoption of new laws on whistleblower protection, monitoring the application of legislation and policies on whistleblowers, to direct support for individuals, researching cases and promoting public support for this activity as a tool in the fight against corruption, etc.

Ricardo Serri pointed out the importance of the process of accession of Montenegro to the European Union and said that now is a good time to discuss anti-corruption, where the cooperation of NGOs at different levels with the EU is of great importance. He also pointed out that the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption must review the reports of citizens who report corruption, but the main drawback is that it cannot initiate court proceedings regarding them. “If we do not have harmonization with the EU policies in these areas, then we cannot move forward with the negotiation process”, concluded the Deputy Head of the DEU in Montenegro.

Nikola Naumovski pointed out that the fight against corruption includes several preventive and corrective measures, but reporting it represents the freedom of expression, as one of the fundamental human rights, which is crucial for the rule of law because most serious corruption crimes are discovered through whistleblower reports.

In the end, Pavle Ćupić referred to the challenges that whistleblowers face and stated that they are often exposed to threats, intimidation, and repression by those who are victims of their disclosure of corruption. That is why it is important to create an environment that will support and protect whistleblowers, providing them with adequate legal and institutional support.

Civic and environmental activist Aleksandar Dragićević also addressed the participants, reminding them that being a whistleblower before 2020 was impossible. The destinies of these people were such that they were punished, they lost their jobs, and inspections were sent to them if they were entrepreneurs, all to prevent freedom of speech. However, after 2020, even though freedom of speech was transferred to another level, the same methods were still used, so those who criticize the state are still labeled as its enemies. Through a brief presentation of the path the civil sector has taken, Aleksandar pointed out positive examples where justice can be achieved through activism and reporting corruption or irregular activities. In this way, he sent a message that we must not give up the fight for a fairer society and that only through continuous work and action can we achieve justice and the rule of law.

At the meeting, we awarded prizes to those who contributed to freedom of speech through their activism.

The awards were granted to Aleksandar Dragićević, civil and environmental activist, and Vuk Vujisić, journalist and environmental activist, for their outstanding contribution to the fight against corruption in the field of environmental protection. Through dedicated and persistent long-term work, dedication and persistence, they left a significant mark and convinced us that with dedicated action, progress can be made in the fight for justice and the rule of law.

In addition, for exceptional contribution in the field of environmental protection, we awarded the Center for Research and Study of Birds, who, through their activism also contribute immensely to the improvement of our environment, thus creating conditions for a better future.

The awards were presented by Milan Radović, Program Director of the Civic Alliance, and Mark Worth, Co-coordinator of the Coalition.

A special part of the meeting was devoted to the transposition of EU Directive 2019/1937 on the protection of whistleblowers, as well as the challenges and opportunities for Montenegro. Mrs. Jelena Grdinić, Director General of the Directorate for Criminal and Civil Legislation in the Ministry of Justice, who is also working on amendments to the Law on Prevention of Corruption, gave her opinion.

She stated that it is necessary to improve the norms within the existing normative framework because it is necessary to improve the position of whistleblowers in Montenegro.

The President of the Anti-corruption Committee, Jevto Eraković, spoke from the point of view of the working body of the Parliament of Montenegro and its competencies as the parent committee that will consider and adopt amendments to the Law on Prevention of Corruption. As he states, a general social environment must be created where whistleblowers would assert themselves and be protected in society. He also pointed out that we must separate the brave ones with civic responsibility from those conflicted individuals who in this way find mechanisms to justify their ignorance, i.e. we need to recognize the socially responsible from the tenacious.

The representative of the Ombudsman institution, Dina Knežević, spoke on this topic, looking at it in the context of respect for human rights and freedoms. She stated that the Institution of the Ombudsman, acting on numerous complaints, implemented the international standards of the Council of Europe and the European Union, with which the national legislation is not fully harmonized. Here, the role of the Institution of the Protector is reflected in the provision of support to national institutions by providing opinions and initiatives for amending legislation. She concluded that for reasons of victimization, it is necessary to provide a better standard for whistleblowers.

At the event, the “Free Speech Award” was also awarded to outstanding individuals and organizations who, through their dedicated work and engagement, contributed to the reduction of corruption or the improvement of the situation in a certain area.

The main conclusions of the meeting are as follows:

  • Since Montenegro is a candidate for membership in the European Union, the fight against corruption is a basic priority for Montenegro. It is necessary to continue the strong engagement of all relevant actors in this area to achieve a transparent and responsible society. The importance of strengthening the capacity of the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption in the detection, investigation, and processing of corruption cases is recognized. It is necessary to ensure independence, efficiency, and adequate resources for this institution, to achieve progress in the fight against corruption.
  • Amendments to the Law on Prevention of Corruption are needed, to improve efficiency and compliance with European Union standards and recommendations of international organizations. A comprehensive approach to the legislative framework is the key to preserving the integrity and effectiveness of the fight against corruption.
  • The key role of whistleblowers in uncovering corruption and protecting the public interest is highlighted. The transposition of EU Directive 2019/1937 on the protection of whistleblowers into the legal system of Montenegro represents an important step towards improving the protection of whistleblowers and strengthening the integrity of institutions.
  • Numerous challenges have been identified in the process of transposing the EU directive on whistleblower protection, including the need to strengthen institutional capacities, ensure the efficient application of regulations, and raise public awareness about the importance of whistleblower protection. At the same time, there is great potential for improving the integrity and efficiency of the fight against corruption through harmonization with international standards.


Share on social networks

Recent news

Successfully implemented projects in the field of human rights with the support of Civic Alliance
The Annual Meeting of the Southeast Europe Coalition on Whistleblower Protection held in Podgorica
Novinari, Novinarke