Goverment approves draft whistleblower protection law

The Latvian cabinet on March 7 approved a new draft whistleblower protection law.

Two years in the making, the draft law on whistleblower protection provides a legal framework aimed at strengthening and promoting whistleblowing in the public interest.

After approval by the government, the draft law has to be approved by Saeima.

"Whistleblowing is the reporting of well-grounded information about an alleged violation that endangers or may endanger the public interest and which is observed by the whistleblower in relation to his/her work duties (e.g. corruption, construction, public procurement, environmental safety or health risks)," a statement from the State Chancellery said.

For the purposes of the draft law, a whistleblower can be any person who reports a possible violation in good faith.

"In order to change public attitudes towards whistleblowing as a precious resource to the public, it is essential to provide for whistleblower protection. The draft law is aimed to ensure confidentiality of whistleblowers, to prohibit reprisals due to whistleblowing, [and] sets out the whistleblower's right to seek redress before the court," the statement said.

Over recent years, similar dedicated laws for whistleblower protection have entered into force in several European countries and the principle of whistleblowing in the public interest has been backed by the European Council, the OECD and other international organizations.

Nevertheless, Latvia's most famous whistleblower, Ilmars Poikans, a.k.a. 'Neo' remains locked in a seemingly endless legal battle to justify his leaking of the tax records of certain public officials in 2010.

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