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Those who report on corruption should not be afraid

In response to the threatening situation of whistleblowers, anti-corruption NGOs launched a cooperation protecting those who report in the public interest. Participating NGOs will provide legal assistance, psychological support and facilitate the public appearance of those, who draw attention to cases of corruption or other violations of the public interest. Their purpose is to protect those, who – in fear of reprisals – have not yet dared to come forward with such information.

In view of the anomalies of the national legal regulations, the weakness of the state’s whistleblower protection institutions, and recent atrocities and lawsuits brought against whistleblowers, the cooperating NGOs – Átlátszó.hu, K-Monitor, and Transparency International Hungary – felt the necessity to form such a safety net.

Reflecting on the cooperation launched by the organizations, Sándor Léderer, director of K-Monitor pointed out that the current legal and institutional environment does not protect whistleblowers; on the contrary, it jeopardizes those who report in the public interest. Their aim is to change this, and until they succeed, they will directly help those brave men and women, who, in spite of all the risks, tackle to fight corruption.

Miklós Ligeti, the legal director of Transparency International Hungary (TI) presented the results of TI’s relevant research and studies. These reveal, among other things, that in European comparison Hungary has the lowest rate of reporting cases of corruption. This is due in large to the fact that potential whistleblowers are afraid of the prospects of bringing injury to themselves by going public.

Ligeti presented TI’s analysis of the legal regulations in force, concluding that the protection of whistleblowers in Hungary is only pseudo-solution. According to him, the cooperation between NGOs and investigative journalists is therefore indispensable, because it allows that “those, who are willing to stand up publicly against corruption and the abuse of power would not have to be afraid.”

Tamás Bodoky, editor-in-chief of the fact finding portal, Átlátszó.hu pointed out that it is typical of the Magyar fallow that parties involved in corruption cases retaliate on those who report in the public interest. “The whistleblower-protection cooperation has set itself the goal to aim these blows to the right direction.”

There is already an anonymous platform in place for leaking information to the public through the magyarleaks.atlatszo.hu, but from now on, even those who undertake to bring to light corruptive practices with their names and faces will not have to be afraid.

Gábor Vágó, coordinator of the cooperative project, named BeVéd explained that the cooperation of the NGO’s was initiated after the vexations against those who reported on the NAV-scandal. They will investigate all cases brought to them. They will provide aid in public appearances and psychological support, and, if necessary, guarantee legal protection of whistleblowers.

Answering to questions from reporters, he stated that they plan to create the financial framework of the cooperation through public donations, and will not accept support from political parties.

According to Vágó, those brave citizens, who risk their well-being for the sake of public good could only be protected by the general public and professionals financed through public donations, since the state is oftentimes a counterparty to their goals. Reports are accepted via the website of beved.hu, or via email at beved@beved.hu.

Original announcement in Hungarian

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