Whither the whistleblowers?

ACCORDING to special prosecutor Ján Hrivňák, as quoted by Sme, the Specialised Criminal Court’s March 16 decision to free Pavol Bielik and clear him of corruption charges “is not a good signal for potential reporters of corruption because there is a risk that even if they tell the truth it might turn against them. It is sad.”

ACCORDING to special prosecutor Ján Hrivňák, as quoted by Sme, the Specialised Criminal Court’s March 16 decision to free Pavol Bielik and clear him of corruption charges “is not a good signal for potential reporters of corruption because there is a risk that even if they tell the truth it might turn against them. It is sad.”

A November 2009 poll conducted by the Focus polling agency for Transparency International Slovensko suggests that only 6 percent of respondents would certainly report bribery to the police, while 16 percent said they might report it.

By contrast, two-thirds said they probably or certainly would not report bribery to the police.

Political transparency watchdogs have warned about the low proportion of people willing to report cases of crime while observers suggest that Slovakia needs to support laws that would provide protection to people willing to report criminal activities in their areas of speciality.

“Distrust in official bodies, for example doubts about whether the police and judiciary would deal with a case in a fair way, or that the whistleblower would be provided with legal protection against discrimination at work, is in our opinion the main reason why there is only a minimal number of people willing to report cases of corruption,” Gabriel Šípoš, the director of Transparency International Slovensko told The Slovak Spectator.

Šípoš said that protection of whistleblowers in Slovakia is, by EU standards, weak and mostly formal.

“There is the textbook example of the employees of [state forestry company] Lesy SR, who last year pointed out possible corruption at the company,” Šípoš said. “After a couple of months they were moved to less important positions and after several months fired. The management of the company has been changed, but nothing has been done with the original complaints. The prosecution is looking into them, so far without results.”

Please see also Corruption trial ends in not guilty verdict

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