The Saeima1 has adopted and
Section 1. Terms Used in this Law
(1) The following terms are used in this Law:
1) fulfilment of work duties - performance of certain work, including voluntary work, professional or office (service) duties or provision of services in legislative, executive or judiciary authority or a legal person governed by private law;
2) competent authority - any institution of a public person which in conformity with the competence laid down in laws and regulation is fully or partly responsible for handling the issue on which the whistleblower is reporting, including a hierarchically higher institution, official or decision-making authority, leading institution (authority) of the sector or body which implements supervision or control of the issue on which the whistleblower is reporting, investigating institution or Prosecutor's Office - in conformity with the competence thereof if the possible violation is a criminal offence or breach of law;
3) violation - a criminal offence, administrative violation or other violation of legal norms or violations of binding ethical or professional norms;
4) whistleblower - natural person who provides information on a possible violation which may harm the public interests if the person considers this information to be true and it has become known to him or her while fulfilling the work duties or establishing legal relations related to the fulfilment of work duties.
(2) The term "institution of a public person" and the term "relative" used in this Law conforms to the terms used in the law On Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Activities of Public Officials.
Section 2. Purpose of this Law
The purpose of this Law is to promote whistleblowing on violations in public interests and ensure the establishment and operation of whistleblowing mechanisms, and also due protection of whistleblowers.
Section 3. Whistleblowing
(1) A whistleblower is entitled to blow the whistle especially on the following violations:
1) failure to act and negligence of officials, or abuse of the official position by them;
4) squandering of financial resources or property of a public person;
5) tax avoidance;
6) public health threat;
7) food safety threat;
8) construction safety threat;
9) environmental safety threat;
10) labour safety threat;
11) public order threat;
12) infringement of human rights;
13) violation in the field of public procurement;
14) violation in the financial and capital market sector;
15) violation of competition law.
(2) Deliberate provision of false information, disclosure of information containing the official secret and reporting only on infringements of personal interests shall not be regarded to be whistleblowing.
Section 4. Whistleblowing Mechanisms
(1) One of the following mechanisms shall be used for whistleblowing:
1) internal whistleblowing system;
2) turning to a competent authority;
3) through intermediation of the contact point of whistleblowers or association or foundation, including a trade union or association thereof.
(2) The whistle may be blown also by providing information publicly if due to objective reasons whistleblowing mechanisms cannot be used or the violation indicated in the whistleblower's report is not eliminated for a lengthy period without any objective reason. The non-recognition of the submission of a person to be a whistleblower's report and non-examination thereof on its merits shall not be regarded as an objective reason. If the whistle is blown publicly, the information which contains non-disclosable information laid down in laws and regulations shall not be provided, and general data protection requirements shall be followed.
Section 5. Internal Whistleblowing System
(1) Institutions of a public person and those legal persons governed by private law which have more than 50 employees shall establish an internal whistleblowing system to provide the employees with the possibility to report on violations in a safe manner and to guarantee protection for them.
(2) An employee shall be informed of the internal whistleblowing system upon commencement of employment legal relations or service relations, or legal relations of other type related to professional activity, and easily accessible information on this system shall be provided at the workplace.
(3) Institutions of a public person shall apply Section 7 of this Law in the examination of the whistleblower's reports received from employees.
Section 6. Submission of a Whistleblower's Report
(1) A whistleblower shall submit a report by complying with that laid down in Section 3 of the Law on Submissions and indicating that it is a whistleblower's report, or by using the form of the whistleblower's report.
(2) A person shall indicate in the whistleblower's report the information at his or her disposal regarding the violation, including:
1) description of the violation by providing particular facts;
2) information regarding such natural or legal persons who may be reasonably considered as being involved in committing the violation.
(3) A whistleblower shall additionally provide in the report whether:
1) the information regarding the violation has been obtained while fulfilling the work duties or establishing legal relations related to the fulfilment of work duties;
2) this violation has been previously reported.
(4) In the case referred to in Paragraph three, Clause 2 of this Section, a person shall add a reply if any has been received.
(5) If a person has submitted the submission without indicating that it is the whistleblower's report then, while the submission has not been yet examined on its merits, the person may request or a competent authority may suggest to recognise this submission to be the whistleblower's report. In such case the submission shall be examined in accordance with the procedures laid down in this Law.
Section 7. Examination of a Whistleblower's Report in the Competent Authority
(1) When receiving a submission of a person which is drawn up as the whistleblower's report on an issue which fully or partly falls within the competence of the authority, the authority shall immediately, however not later than within seven days, evaluate its prima facie conformity with the constituent elements of whistleblowing laid down in this Law and take the decision to recognise the submission to be the whistleblower's report. The authority shall inform the person of the decision taken within three days from the day of taking the decision.
(2) If the received submission does not fall within the competence of the authority, it shall be forwarded for examination based on the jurisdiction within 10 days after receipt thereof. If the received submission falls within the competence of several authorities, it may be examined jointly.
(3) After taking the decision referred to in Paragraph one of this Section, the authority shall examine the whistleblower's report on its merits and, if a violation is found, apply liability in accordance with laws and regulations. If, during examination of the submission, suspicions of a violation the examination of which does not fall within the competence of the authority arise, the report shall be forwarded for further examination based on the jurisdiction.
(4) The authority which examines the whistleblower's report has the right to request and receive from other authorities, legal and natural persons information which is necessary to determine the circumstances of the case.
(5) A whistleblower shall be informed regarding the course of examination of the whistleblower's report not later than within two months from the day when the submission of the person has been recognised to be the whistleblower's report.
(6) An authority shall provide the information on the violation which were found with the help of a whistleblower publicly, without disclosing the identity of the whistleblower and complying with the data protection requirements.
Section 8. Contact Point of Whistleblowers
(1) The contact point of whistleblowers shall be the State Chancellery.
(2) The contact point of whistleblowers shall have the following obligations:
1) to provide information regarding the procedures for whistleblowing, competent authorities, including contact persons in the issues of whistleblowing, and protection guarantees on a website;
2) to provide support and consultations to persons who wish to whistleblow and to whistleblowers or his or her relatives in solving the issues caused due to the whistleblowing;
3) upon receipt of the whistleblower's report, to identify the competent authority and, within 10 days, transfer the received report by indicating that the identity of the whistleblower needs to be protected;
4) to raise awareness of the public on whistleblowing;
5) to provide methodological support in the field of whistleblowing, including to develop and publish on a website the best practice guidelines for the establishment of internal whistleblowing system, the form of whistleblower's report and guidelines for the receipt and examination of whistleblower's reports in competent authorities;
6) to compile the information on whistleblowing and protection of whistleblowers each year, including on the violation that were found after submission of whistleblower's reports, and to publish the report on a website;
7) where necessary, to provide an opinion to the Legal Aid Administration on the necessity to ensure legal aid for a whistleblower in accordance with the procedures laid down in the State Ensured Legal Aid Law if the whistleblowing has prima facie conformed with the requirements of this Law and adverse effects have been caused for the whistleblower for the solving of which legal aid is necessary.
Section 9. Support of Associations and Foundations
Associations and foundations, including trade unions and associations thereof, may:
1) provide support, including consultations, for whistleblowers and persons who wishes to whistleblow to promote whistleblowing and protection of whistleblowers;
2) provide support, including consultations, to theirs members and persons whose interests they represent in accordance with the articles of association, if they have blown the whistle or wish to whistleblow;
3) apply to an institution (authority) or court on behalf of such whistleblower who is its member or the person whose interests it represents in accordance with the articles of association, and to protect the rights and lawful interests of the whistleblower.
Section 10. Guarantees for the Protection of a Whistleblower and his or her Relatives
(1) From the moment when a whistleblower has blown the whistle in accordance with the procedures laid down in Section 4 of this Law, he or she and his or her relatives have the right to the following in the cases and in accordance with the procedures laid down in this Law and other laws and regulations:
1) protection of the identity;
2) protection against adverse effects caused due to whistleblowing;
3) the State ensured legal aid;
4) release from the payment of court expenses in civil proceedings and payment of the State fee in administrative court proceedings;
5) temporary protection in civil proceedings and administrative proceedings in the court;
6) release from legal liability;
7) appropriate compensation for loses or personal damage, also moral detriment;
8) consultations on the protection of his or her rights;
(2) If, when examining the submission of a person, its conformity with the constituent elements of whistleblowing is not established, the person loses the rights referred to in Paragraph one of this Section.
Section 11. Protection of the Identity of a Whistleblower
(1) When receiving a whistleblower's report, the personal data of the submitter shall be pseudonymised.
(2) Personal data of a whistleblower, report and appended written or material evidence, and also materials from the examination of the whistleblower's report shall have the status of restricted access information.
(3) Every person (authority) who has received the whistleblower's report or carries out any activities with it has the obligation to ensure due protection of the personal data of the whistleblower. The personal data of the whistleblower may be transferred only to persons (authorities) who need them for the examination of the whistleblower's report or the violation case initiated on the basis of it, or for the protection of the whistleblower or his or her relatives.
Section 12. Protection of the Identity of the Person Referred to in Whistleblower's Report
(1) It is prohibited to disclose such information which reveals the identity of the natural or legal person on whom the whistleblower has reported. The aforementioned information may be provided only to a person or authority which needs it for the examination of the whistleblower's report or the violation case initiated on the basis of it, or for the protection of the whistleblower or his or her relatives.
(2) The prohibition referred to in Paragraph one of this Section shall not apply to the cases when a whistleblower or his or her relative discloses this information for the purpose of protecting his or her rights or legal interests.
Section 13. Protection Against Adverse Effects Caused due to Whistleblowing
(1) It is prohibited to disciplinary or otherwise punish a whistleblower or his or her relatives, release them from work or position, demote or transfer them to another work or position, or otherwise directly or indirectly cause adverse effects for them due to the fact that the whistleblower has submitted the whistleblower's report.
(2) The adverse effects associated with whistleblowing depending on their type shall be eliminated in conformity with laws and regulations governing employment legal or other civil legal relations or State service relations.
(3) The party causing the effects has the obligation to prove that adverse effects have not been caused for a whistleblower or his or her relatives in relation to submitting the whistleblower's report or the information indicated therein.
(4) The State Labour Inspectorate shall provide consultations on the possibilities to prevent causing adverse effects for a whistleblower or his or her relatives in the field of employment legal relations or labour safety.
Section 14. State Ensured Legal Aid to a Whistleblower
Upon a request of a whistleblower, the State ensured legal aid shall be provided to him or her in accordance with the provision of the State Ensured Legal Aid Law based on the documents submitted by the whistleblower, and also, where necessary, the opinion received from the contact point of whistleblowers and without assessing the status of the property and income level of the person.
Section 15. Release of a Whistleblower from Legal Liability
Legal liability, including civil legal liability and criminal liability, shall not set in for a whistleblower for whistleblowing in conformity with the requirements of this Law, including disclosure of the non-disclosable information laid down in laws and regulations that is not an official secret.
Section 16. Release from State Fee in Administrative Proceedings
A whistleblower and his or her relative the submission of whom is related to the prevention of the adverse effects caused by whistleblowing shall be released from the State fee in the administrative proceedings in the court.
1. Until 1 December 2019, the Cabinet shall submit to the Saeima the amendments to the Civil Procedure Law which would provide for temporary protection of a whistleblower and his or her relatives in the civil procedure.
2. Until 1 February 2019, the Cabinet shall submit to the Saeima the amendments to the Administrative Violations Code of Latvia which would govern the administrative liability for causing adverse effects for a whistleblower or his or her relatives and for deliberate provision of false information when submitting the whistleblower's report.
The Law shall come into force on 1 May 2019.
This Law has been adopted by the Saeima on 11 October 2018.
President R. Vējonis
Riga, 24 October 2018
1 The Parliament of the Republic of Latvia
Translation © 2019 Valsts valodas centrs (State Language Centre)