Parliament on Thursday passed a law on the protection of whistleblowers, hailed by MPs as an important step in cracking down on corruption in the public sector.
The legislation passed with 49 votes for, and one against. The single vote against was cast by Limassol MP Andreas Themistocleous.
Discussions on the legislation date back to 2016. The law is titled ‘The protection of persons who report violations of EU law and national Law of 2022’.
It affords state protection to persons reporting corruption in the private and public sectors. Whistleblowers cannot be sacked, or downgraded, and will be protected by police if threatened.
Among others, it covers the reporting of instances where violations of the law jeopardise, or may jeopardise, the safety or health of any person, as well as violations that cause, or may cause, damage to the environment.
The law covers not only the person doing the reporting, but also third parties connected to that person who may suffer reprisals.
Legal entities governed by either public or private law must set in place channels and processes for the in-house reporting of violations.
Moreover such entities, as well as public authorities which receive the reports, have a legal obligation to preserve whistleblowers’ anonymity and also take care not to divulge any information that can be used as an identifier of the person reporting.
In addition, it becomes a criminal offence to obstruct the filing of a report, to take any reprisals against the person reporting, or to renege on the obligation to protect a whistleblower’s anonymity.
Sanctions are also specified for those submitting false reports.
Speaking on the House floor, Akel MP Irini Charalambidou – who had pushed hard for the legislation – said she was pleased that Cyprus has finally passed a law that will serve as the spearhead for clamping down on corruption and enhancing transparency.
So far in Cyprus, she added, people who reported illegal acts or bad practices tended to be targeted and marginalised.
“In a small state, it’s easy to compel silence,” she noted.”
Present at the session of the House plenum was Justice Minister Stephi Dracou.