Netherlands Embassy in Tirana, Albania

Albanian whistleblowers draft law in process

By Ambassador Dewi van de Weerd

Join the Competition! The Dutch embassy supports the development of an Albanian law on whistleblowing. But what would be the right term for whistleblowing in Albanian? Read more about the drafting of this new innovative law in the blog by the Ambassador.

The word for whistleblowing in Albanian

In the Netherlands whistleblowing is called ringing the bell. Both terms mean the following: bringing forward of things that are wrong in a public institution or company. In Albanian it is not clear what would be the right term. Last week a roundtable took place on a draft law on whistleblowing for Albania. I am aware that informing on wrongdoings for many Albanians may sound as something familiar, not so pleasant that may even recall sad memories of the past. Yet, today, after 25 years of democracy, in a state where checks and balances between powers are being built every day, such an approach is no longer a danger. It is rather a necessary institutional development.

Its importance to me is very clear. I arrived as the new Dutch ambassador to Albania early January. When I met my new neighbours, who came over for coffee, it struck me that they both quickly started complaining about the amount of corruption in this country, and how it is really hindering them in their daily lives. Clearly, the Albanian people want this to change.

The fight against corruption is high on the agenda

Anti-corruption is high on the agenda of the EU priorities relating to Albania’s candidate EU-member status. An interesting development is the new anti-corruption portal that has been launched by the Albanian government in February. Now online reporting of corruption is possible. Minister Çuçi showed me the portal, it looked elaborate with different buttons for complaints about education, building or health care. He told me that in the first week alone 1700 complaints were registered. Hopefully not only small corruption cases will be targeted, but also bigger fish will be prosecuted for corruption in the months to come.

Going back to whistleblowing, the Netherlands Embassy supported the initiative taken by both Minister Çuçi and vice-minister of Justice, Mr. Peçi, to develop a law on whistleblowing. Last week a roundtable took place in Tirana together with relevant ministries, civil society and the private sector to discuss the second draft of the law. It has been prepared together with a group of experts of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, who have also done some research into the best existing experiences within Europe. It was funded by the Dutch Rule of Law Programme.

The current draft is innovative and comprehensive. An important aspect of the draft is that is has provided for an “implementation phase” chapter. This of course will be crucial and also the mosty difficult part. What is also required, is full and proper harmonization with the legislation present in the country. While we believe in the principle of transparency and the right of individuals to address corruption, at the same time we believe in confidentiality, data protection and privacy principles. This draft law aims to have a sound balance of these principles.

Private sector involvement is crucial

Another aspect of interest to mention is that the draft law does not only involves public administration, but also the private sector. It is a known fact that companies that have clear internal complaint mechanisms, tend to have more respect for the rights of their workers and human rights in general. Companies complaints’ mechanisms are also being discussed in the Dutch National Actionplan on Business and Human Rights ( http://bit.ly/1E9YHmv).

Join the competition

The fight against corruption in Albania is indispensable. It is the concern of every Albanian citizen and the commitment of the Albanian government to the EU accession process. Cooperation of all the actors in society will be a key factor for success. Hopefully we will witness the development of a system where there is less fear to talk, and more protection and proper investigation. Everybody should be on board to create a climate where an act of corruption is highly unacceptable, rather than something that is noticed every day. An Albanian law on whistleblowing could provide another small step in the right direction. But of course we need to find the right term for this in Albanian. So that is why we would like to invite you to send to the Embassy your thoughts on a suitable name for the law on whistleblowing in Albanian.