Whistleblower hotlines — Slovenian approach

New high-level protection of whistleblowers from the EU hasn't become a surprise for Slovenia.

Processing of reports from whistleblowers can be traced back to 2002 when the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption was created.

Since then and for now on, Slovenia has been developing tools for the investigation of cases of corruption, which include bribes, illegal intervention or intermediation, etc. 

Who makes it legal?

The Convention against Corruption was an ancestor of all further initiatives: now it should be considered in parallel with the Code of Ethics of Slovene Public Servants, Witness protection Act, and Integrity of Prevention of Corruption Act.

All together they form a special area which includes protection of whistleblowers and a fuller treatment of suspected crimes or confirmed ones.

The number of laws looks frightening; however, the IPCA (last one mentioned) is a well-detailed guide for all the organizations covered: it shows what, why and how.

The reason was corruption

Since the situation with corruption in Slovenia is still an ongoing issue, the country took actions in the prevention of crimes and protection of witnesses or third persons. Acts of anti-corruption are mandatory, the violation of the procedure mentioned in current conventions becomes a subject to administrative discipline.

Only the public sector is involved in all the restrictions of legislative compulsive clauses; however, both officials and informal persons may participate in the process of lodging a complaint or process of prosecution. Due to the broad formulation of whistleblowing in Slovenian law, whistleblowers can complain not only about cases of corruption they have seen or suspect but any discrimination.

Everyone is 'in'

Slovenia has become one of a few countries where the law covers both public and private sector. Without a direct reference to obligations of private companies, IPCA mentions integration with officials, use of governmental funds (even indirect), influence on the local community as possible reasons for the private sector to follow the rules.

In 2011 the Commission for IPCA was only encouraged to collaborate with individual entrepreneurs and provide all the necessary assistance with whistleblowing lines. Currently, it is nearly impossible to be guided only by private law. Since all the citizens who in good faith suspect the crime can reach out to the Commission and be protected by law, it is highly recommended to start solving the conflicts of ethics on the internal level.

Do we need a plan now?

Yes, and it's called 'integrity plan'.

Mostly all the public organizations or those who perform the activities in public interest should implement a system of request-response.

This process goes by assigning the responsible persons, assessment of exposure to corruption, description of the response manner to possible cases.

Responsible persons should provide information on corruption risks and improve the system when possible. The target of integrity plan is a practical use of ethics in the workplace; therefore, it includes detection, prevention and elimination of all potential risks. Keep in mind that the organizations obliged to create integrity plans are mandatory supervised by the Commission.

Our final word

Slovenia is one of the countries where the new law on whistleblowers is successfully implemented. However, the country is still amending anti-corruption and corporate ethics. The goal is to comply with both European standards of human rights protection and national specificity of abuse of authority.

The reason for disbelief in the system is mostly a low coverage of examined cases and the absence of internal investigating authorities. External committees remain not fully involved and professional according to the observers, so there is still much more to improve — internal whistleblowers hotlines may replace them with time.

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