Publicity work by courts and public prosecutor's offices

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
North Macedonia

On 22 June 2020, the closing event was held for a series of online seminars on “Justice and the media in North Macedonia”. The series of seminars was organised by the Academy of Judges and Public Prosecutors for North Macedonia in partnership with the IRZ. Whilst the first seminars were aimed at presiding judges, the target group for the closing event was public prosecutors in management positions.

Once the event had been opened by the Director of the Academy, Prof. Dr. Natasha Gaber-Damjanovksa, and the IRZ Head of Section, lawyer Dr. Stefan Pürner, Otto Graf, the German Ambassador’s permanent representative, welcomed the participants. In his welcome speech, he emphasised the importance of the rule of law in North Macedonia’s preparations for EU entry. Otto Graf underlined the particularly positive fact that the cooperation between the Academy and IRZ is continuing during the current pandemic.

The first lecture at the online seminar was given by Prof. Dr. Jasna Bachovska-Nedic, who teaches media law at the “Saints Cyril and Methodius” University in Skopje. She started by painting a rather negative picture of the publicity work currently being carried out by courts and public prosecutor's offices in North Macedonia, before going on to present some positive examples, which she used to provide some specific recommendations for the future.

This was followed by a lecture by former Chief Public Prosecutor, Winfried Schubert, President of the Constitutional Court of the State of Saxony-Anhalt and of the Higher Regional Court of Naumberg, on the media work carried out by public prosecutors in ongoing investigation processes and in connection with indictments. He presented examples of media work by German public prosecutors, including some negative examples and breakdowns in communication. Winfried Schubert emphasised the fact that, in Germany's view, publicity work carried out by public prosecutors should carefully weigh up the interests of informing the public against the rights of suspects, the accused and defendants.

The series of events was met with a great deal of interest from the participants, who already knew each other from various events previously held in person by IRZ in North Macedonia. This meant that there was a good working atmosphere during the webinar.

Round table on a possible constitutional court law

Participants in the conference
Participants in the conference
North Macedonia

On 5 December 2019, the IRZ and the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia held a joint Round Table to discuss the possibility of a future constitutional court law for the country.

The event, which was financed by funds from the German Foreign Office, began on 4 December with a reception at the residence of the German Ambassador, Thomas Gerberich. The participants in the Round Table made the most of the opportunity to discuss the many outstanding issues as a small group and during bilateral talks.

On the following day, Sali Murati, President of the Constitutional Court of Macedonia, and Dr. Stefan Pürner, representing the IRZ as Head of Section, opened the Round Table discussions. This was followed by a lecture by the former President of the Constitutional Court of the State of Saxony-Anhalt, Winfried Schubert, who presented the German Federal Constitutional Court law and the corresponding regulations at federal state (Bundesländer) level and also talked about the significance of the issues governed by these regulations. He also provided some guidance on practical application.

Winfried Schubert’s lecture provided a starting point for lively discussions, during which the Macedonian participants put forward their own ideas about the content of this type of law.

The focus of discussions was on the following topics in particular:

  • Organisation of the court
  • Distribution of internal court responsibilities
  • Mechanisms for the preliminary assessment of claims
  • Budget issues
  • Procedure for the engagement of staff members who are not judges
  • Rules of conduct for constitutional court judges
  • Court processes for dealing with the media, particularly when it comes to critical or even non-objective reporting

Most of the participants in the Round Table were judges and scientific staff from the Constitutional Court. Other legal experts were also invited to ensure the transparency of the event and to enrich the discussions with an outside view of the court (in alphabetical order):

  • Margarita Caca Nokolovska, a former judge at the European Court of Human Rights,
  • Prof. Dr. Gabler Damjanovska, Director of the Judicial Academy of North Macedonia,
  • Dr. Denis Prešova, Faculty of Law at the Skopje State University,
  • Dr. Jeton Shasivari, Faculty of Law at the South-East European University in Tetovo, and
  • Prof. Dr. Jusuf Zejneli, Faculty of Law at the Tetovo State University.
Following on from the discussions, they gave short speeches, commenting on various aspects of the work of the Constitutional Court of Macedonia. These also included some critical comments. They did, however, all agree that North Macedonia needs a constitutional court law, which should in particular cover regulations for a comprehensive constitutional complaint. The presence of the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, Faton Selami, proved that these considerations are also of interest to the Ministry of Justice.

Event on constitutional complaint as a legal institution in North Macedonia

During the event
During the event
North Macedonia

On 4 December 2019, the IRZ and the Institute for Democracy “Socitas Civilis” held a joint event in Skopje on the subject of constitutional complaint. In view of the fact that North Macedonia is the only country in the region that has still not introduced a comprehensive constitutional complaint, this event was held to inform participants about the benefits of this important legal institution, as well as the legal means of introducing it and the organisational measures required for its implementation.

The event was opened by the President of the Institute for Democracy, Marko Trošanovski, and Dr. Stefan Pürner, representing the IRZ as responsible Head of Section. The welcome speech was given by Secretary of State Faton Selami, representing the Minister of Justice, Prof. Dr. Renata Deskoska, who was abroad at the time.

An internal workshop on the subject had preceded this event. The results of the workshop, which had been summarised in a policy document, were presented by the following authors:

  • Dr. Mirijana Lazarova Trajkovska, a former judge at the European Court of Human Rights,
  • Winfried Schubert, a former president of the Constitutional Court of the Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt, and
  • Dr. Denis Prešova, an assistant working for the Department of Constitutional Law and Political Systems at the University of Skopje, whose work focusses on German law.

The results of the internal workshop should continue to provide specialist support for public discussions.

During the event, it became clear that introducing the constitutional complaint would significantly improve the legal protection of the citizens of North Macedonia, as well as reducing the workload of the European Court of Human Rights. However, considerable preparations will need to be made before the constitutional complaint can be introduced in North Macedonia. Since there is not yet any constitutional court law in this country, experts believe that there would need to be changes to the constitution before the constitutional complaint could be introduced. Considerable organisational preparations would also be required. These include a considerable increase in staff numbers, as well as providing training for the required new judges and new research staff.

The participants in the event pointed out that the relationship between the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court in the country would change with the introduction of the constitutional complaint. The Constitutional Court in particular would need to adhere to its intended role and only assess the judgements of the Supreme Court for potential violations of basic rights and not with regard to any other incorrect applications of the law. Another prerequisite for the introduction of the constitutional complaint would also be for the general public and specialist groups to be provided with detailed information on the subject. This event has already made a significant contribution towards this.