FCHR staff, General Counsel Cheyanne Costilla and Employment Investigator Manager Brook Yurgel joined Commissioners Latanya Peterson and Rebecca Steele in Jacksonville to meet with a delegation from Armenia. The meeting was requested by GlobalJax, an organization who works the US Department of State on significant global outreach initiatives related to human rights.
The Armenian delegation included Chief of Staff, Council of Justice; Deputy Prosecutor, Administrative Districts; Head of Judicial Department; Judge, Criminal Court of Appeal; and Chair of International & European Law of Russian-Armenian University. These representatives from judicial and law enforcement fields are engaged in a project focused on Whistleblower Protections, based on new legislation recently passed at the national level in Armenia.
The delegation wanted to learn about the importance of whistleblowing and whistleblower protection, as well as, organizational culture in the US at the federal, state and municipal levels. During their three-week travel schedule, the delegation has spent time in Washington DC, meeting with the DOJ, Inspector General's Office, and officials at Georgetown Law and American University Law. Additionally, the team has met with the United Nations Anti-Corruption Committee.
During Tuesday's meeting with the FCHR, the focus was at the state level, specifically discussing Florida's Whistleblower legislation and retaliation protection. The team also shared the role of the Commission and the process in place for complaints of retaliation. In addition, we provided the broader scope of the Commission, emphasizing the various discrimination protections in place.
The Armenian delegation was most interested in how to influence culture to accept whistleblowing as a "positive," and how to best engage in proactive education and communication to do so. We shared some lessons learned, those aspects that work well and also challenges still faced.
Even speaking mainly through interpreters, the FCHR representatives felt they had a productive dialogue and left with greater understanding. The Armenian delegates asked if they could reach back out to the Commission as they continue to implement the rules and processes that will guide their new Whistleblower legislation. They were assured that the Commission welcomes this and would be more than happy to provide any additional support. The Delegation next heads to Dallas to meet with state officials there before returning to Armenia later this week.