SELDI Network Celebrates International Whistleblowers Day Honoring Courage and Fight for Transparency in the Western Balkans

SELDI Network Celebrates International Whistleblowers DayToday, on International Whistleblowers Day, the Southeast Europe Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) Network acknowledges the invaluable contributions of whistleblowers in the Western Balkans.

Across the region, brave individuals have stepped forward to expose corruption and hold those in power accountable. Driven by integrity, truth, and transparency, these whistleblowers are making a significant impact in the fight against corruption. However, their journey is not without challenges.

Whistleblower Dritan Zagani exposed drug trafficking involving ex-Minister Saimir Tahiri in Albania. Despite providing crucial information, Zagani was arrested as the prosecutor did not act. He sought asylum in Switzerland for protection. The case against Tahiri was resolved in Italy, highlighting the challenges faced by whistleblowers in Albania and the need for effective protection measures.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, whistleblower Emir Mešić faced consequences after revealing irregularities within the Indirect Taxation Authority, a major state institution. Mešić reported misconduct within the institution and now faces disciplinary proceedings as a result of blowing the whistle.

In Kosovo*, whistleblower Murat Mehmeti played a crucial role in exposing corruption within the Kosovo Police. However, despite the existence of legal protection provisions, whistleblowers like Mehmeti continue to face widespread challenges due to inadequate implementation and support in Kosovo, leaving them vulnerable to retaliation without proper safeguards.

Patricia Pobric, a courageous whistleblower in Montenegro, brought to light corruption within the government and public administration. Despite providing substantial evidence of irregularities and abuse of power, her whistleblower status was denied by the relevant agency, raising concerns about the protection and recognition of whistleblowers in Montenegro.

The “bombs” scandal in North Macedonia in 2015, involving the release of illegally wiretapped recordings by Gjorgji Lazarevski and colleagues, exposed widespread corruption, abuse of power, and political interference. High-ranking officials from various sectors were implicated, triggering a political crisis, mass protests, and leading to government changes and significant reforms.

Serbian whistleblower Aleksandar Obradović shed light on corruption within the Serbian arms industry – Krušik. His leaked documents revealed embezzlement of funds and irregularities related to weapon production and export, implicating high-ranking officials. Obradović’s actions sparked crucial discussions about transparency and accountability in Serbia, drawing attention to the issue.

Today we celebrate them and call for effective protection and support for these courageous individuals. Creating an environment where potential whistleblowers feel safe and encouraged to report corruption, knowing they will be shielded from retaliation, is crucial. Strengthening the legal framework and enacting comprehensive whistleblower protection legislation are vital steps toward this goal.

We acknowledge that societal fragmentation and the autarkic mindset of certain leaders hinder the effective use of this instrument to combat corruption through education and prevention. We urge the reinforcement of education, encompassing family, community, and European values, to shift society’s focus towards the common good rather than individual interests.

SELDI also urges governments, civil society organisations, and all stakeholders to intensify efforts in raising awareness about the importance of whistleblowers and their significant role in combating corruption. Public campaigns, educational initiatives, and capacity-building programs should be implemented to empower citizens and foster a culture that values and protects those who expose corruption.

Today, let us honour the courage and resilience of these individuals who are making a difference in the Western Balkans and inspire others to join the fight against corruption.

*The designation “Kosovo” is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

Download the policy note (PDF 125Kb)

Share this post