Czechia faces EU lawsuit over failure to protect whistleblowers

Transparency International says the pending Czech law lacks protection for filing an anonymous report.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 16.02.2023 09:47:00 (updated on 16.02.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Politicking and "ideological obtuseness" are the reason for Czechia not having passed the rules to protect whistleblowers reporting unlawful practices from possible revenge, the anti-corruption Transparency International (TI) organization has said.

The European Commission stated yesterday that it would file a lawsuit with the Court of Justice of the European Union against Czechia and another seven EU member states for not having introduced the rules yet.

An EU directive from October 2019 requires each EU member state to include whistleblower protection in its legislation. The deadline to enact the laws expired in December 2021.

The Czech government approved a whistleblower bill last November and the lower house constitutional and legal committee will assess it again in early March.

TI and the organization Reconstruction of the State have also warned that Czechia faces the threat of passing a poor-quality law as the bill currently being assessed by the Chamber of Deputies’ constitutional and legal committee lacks the possibility to file an anonymous report.

TI, Reconstruction of the State, and the anti-corruption group Oživení previously said that the government bill will only complicate the process of assessing reports by the employers and the authorities.

Czechia has been discussing the law for 15 years

The directive’s aim is to create an environment where whistleblowers will not fear any sanctions in case they report unlawful acts. The measure is to help, for instance, people who reveal corruption and practices threatening public health, data protection, product safety, and transport and nuclear safety at their workplaces. It applies to the public sector as well as private firms with 50 and more employees.

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Petr Leyer, a lawyer and a member of the TI board of directors, noted that protecting whistleblowers has been discussed for almost 15 years in Czechia. "No government was able to adopt any general regulation. When the European directive was approved, it seemed that Czech legislation would immediately follow," he said. "This did not happen due to politicking and ideological silencing, and after two years, the Czech Republic is facing a lawsuit. So if we can excel in anything, it is excuses and non-fulfillment of anti-corruption obligations," he added.

In addition to Czechia, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Hungary, and Poland also face European Commission legal action for failing to add measures protecting whistleblowers into their legal framework.

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