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Whistleblowers need better protection in Estonia

Whistleblower protection should be more organized in Estonia to be considered as an additional effective measure to fight corruption, concludes the international survey where Transparency International Estonia participated. „Estonian people are not eager to report violations because general attitude towards such disclosures is relatively negative,“ said Asso Prii, member of the board of TI Estonia. Study comprising of 10 EU member states, including Estonia reflects also that whistle blowing regulations are concentrated only on Estonian public sector and are divided between different acts, thereof jeopardizing legal clarity. Roundtable meeting organized by TI Estonia on the 9th of December discussed possible ways to improve whistleblowing and whistleblower protection in Estonian medical sector and public service. Participants agreed that medical sector has potential risks that foster emergence of corrupt occurrences. “Health is highest value of people and society has entrusted a serious medical decision-making and implementation to the doctors which results in heightened risk of corruption in providing medical services,“ said Andres Soosaar from Health Institute of University of Tartu. „At present moment a considerable reserve of controlling corrupt behaviour is vested into self-regulation of professional communities,“ he added, referring to codes of conduct and ethics of medical associations. Implementation of whistleblowing system in health care is foreseen in anti-corruption strategy of Estonian government and it should be implemented by Ministry of Social Affairs. Currently an ethics council for public service is being established by Ministry of Finance. “Main priority of the council is uniform application of public service code of ethics,” said Anneli Sihver from State Chancellery. “Thereof will council improve the ethical competence of civil servants,” she added. TI Estonia proposed that Ministry of Justice should take the leading role in mapping the areas where whistleblowing systems are necessary, involving also umbrella organizations such as Association of Estonian Doctors and Estonian Employers Confederation. Roundtable meeting was held within the project “Enhancing whistleblower protection in European Union”. Project is funded by European Commission and Open Estonian Foundation. Info: Asso Prii, Transparency International Estonia, member of the board Ph. (+372) 55 646 371, www.transparency.ee