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After long battle, whistleblowers bill headed for House vote

Nicos Tornaritis

After five years, MPs on Wednesday concluded discussion of a bill on the protection of whistleblowers, which is now headed for the plenum to be put to the vote.

The proposal, which had been submitted by Akel MP Irini Charalambides, affords state protection to people reporting corruption in the private and public sectors. Whistleblowers cannot be sacked, or downgraded, and will be protected by police if threatened, according to the proposal.

House legal affairs committee chairman Nicos Tornaritis said the state must have the institutions in place to convey the message that corruption cannot be accepted by anyone, anywhere.

“It is a key bill, an important decision, which was made by the legal affairs committee, and we hope it is approved by the plenum,” he said.

The bill transposes into national law an EU directive and it must be passed by January 17. It is also a condition for the release of funds from the Recovery and Resilience Fund.

Charalambides said it was a good day and “I hope it will be unanimously accepted.”

She said the EU directive did not protect informants from being dismissed, something which the bill does.

The Akel MP suggested that the bill would spearhead the fight against corruption.

“It is a strong framework to protect citizens, to stamp out and eliminate corruption,” she said.

The bill is connected with one establishing an independent anti-corruption authority while a third piece of legislation regulates lobbying.

Approval of the bills is included in the conditions for the disbursement of €97 million from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Fund (RRF).

The lobbying bill had gone to the plenum on April 22 – before parliament dissolved ahead of elections — but was eventually withdrawn after voting on the anti-corruption bill was postponed.

The two pieces of legislation are included in recommendations made by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (Greco).

The bill provides that state and elected officials must declare their contacts along with minutes of what was discussed.

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