North Macedonia has done nothing to fulfill the EU Directive. Even if it did update its whistleblower law to comply with the Directive, this would make no difference if the Commission is not competent or honest about its work. A good law cannot compensate for poor work on whistleblower cases.
Mark Worth is Executive Director of Whistleblowing International in The Hague and the European Center for Whistleblower Rights in Berlin. He is one of the biggest experts on whistleblowing protection in the World. He is in North Macedonia from very first beginning on the implementation of whistleblowing system in the country. He knows Macedonian situation of whistleblowing protection very well. We are making this interview in the moment when are ongoing debates about whistleblowing directive in European Union.
SCOOP Macedonia: How are You seeing the process of whistleblowing in the World and Europe?
Worth: We certainly are in the midst of a Whistleblowing Revolution. “Whistleblower’ is a household term all over the world. This is new. Dozens of countries have passed whistleblower protection laws. This is new. Tens of thousands of people around the world – maybe hundreds of thousands – report crime and corruption every year. This is new. Now, people working in EU countries will have free speech rights to blow the whistle. This is new. So all of the infrastructure is in place for people to make reports. But we still need to strengthen anti-retaliation protections in practice.
SCOOP Macedonia: How Are You seeing North Macedonian efforts in the protecting of whistleblowing?
Worth: North Macedonia has been one of the biggest disappointments in Europe. The country passed its first law whistleblower protection law in 2016. After seven years, two amendments to the law, and hundreds of hours of education and training for Macedonian officials that was paid for with public money from the EU and Council of Europe, the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption has yet to have one clear-but successful case of protecting an employee from retaliation after reporting corruption. Not one. The Commission’s Secretary General, Irena Popovska, admitted this to me in private recently. Yet, at conferences and other public events, Ms. Popovska says the Commission is doing a great job protecting whistleblowers. This is not true, and the Commission knows it is not true. Ms. Popovska travels around Europe on trips paid for with public funds, and posts her smiling photos from conferences on social media. Yet the Commission’s whistleblower protection program has been a 100 percent failure. I know this for a fact. We plan to take action appropriate legal action to stop this charade, which has harmed many victimized whistleblowers in North Macedonia. Citizens suffer while Commission officials travel around Europe. It is a disgrace.
SCOOP Macedonia: What are You expecting od New EU directive for whistleblowing?
Worth: We are expecting tens of thousands of employees each year to expose corruption, fraud, theft, money laundering, tax evasion and other crimes secretly being committed inside private and public sector workplaces. We are praying for whistleblower protection systems to work, and we are training caseworkers in anticipation of the large flood of cases that is coming their way.
SCOOP Macedonia: What kind of new changes have North Macedonia to adopt to fulfill the needs of European directive of whistleblowing?
Worth: As far as I know, North Macedonia has done nothing to fulfill the EU Directive. Even if it did update its whistleblower law to comply with the Directive, this would make no difference if the Commission is not competent or honest about its work. A good law cannot compensate for poor work on whistleblower cases.
SCOOP Macedonia: What is Your message for Young whistleblowers in North Macedonia and in the world?
Worth: Contact an NGO or a journalist. Do not trust a public institution unless you can trust it completely – unless it has a proven 100 percent record of protecting all whistleblowers. Be careful. Follow our motto: “Blow the whistle but do not become a whistleblower.”