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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
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.
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.
On 22 November 2019, the IRZ successfully concluded the EU Twinning Light Project “Strengthening the capacities of the authorized bodies for fight against crime” with a closing conference held in Skopje. During the course of this project, which was completed in just eight months by the IRZ in partnership with the Ministry of Justice and Public Prosecutor's Office of North Macedonia, all the main objectives in the area of applying special investigation methods were achieved, including the assessment and analysis of the Criminal Procedure Law, the Penal Code and the Law on Confidential Information. At several meetings and round table discussions, the German experts discussed the existing problems with North Macedonian representatives of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Financial Police, the Customs Authority and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and worked on recommendations for changes to the law.
A second component of the project dealt in particular with providing the employees of the beneficiary institutions with the relevant training. To achieve this, two German public prosecutors devised a training programme, which was then applied in ten two-day training sessions by trainers from North Macedonia. With the support of German and Austrian public prosecutors, more than a hundred representatives of North Macedonian public prosecutor’s offices were trained in this way.
In order to get an insight into the practical work involved in applying special investigation methods in Germany, in October a group of North Macedonian investigators travelled to Germany for talks at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Düsseldorf (Specialist Department of Organised Crime and Cconomic Crime), the Local and Regional Courts and the State Office of Criminal Investigation for North Rhine-Westphalia.
The closing conference was opened by:
Nicola Bertolini, Head of the International Cooperation Department, EU Delegation for North Macedonia,
Gordana Smakjoska, Public Prosecutor at the Specialist Public Prosecutor’s Office for Fighting Organised Crime and Corruption in North Macedonia and a Project Manager, and
Norbert Koster, a Judge at the Higher Regional Court of Hamm and a Project Manager.
Afterwards, the main results of the projects were presented once again by the following experts from Germany and North Macedonia, and further light was shed on these results through lectures on financial investigation from the point of view of police and customs authorities.
Vilma Ruskovska, Public Prosecutor at the Specialist Public Prosecutor’s Office for Fighting Organised Crime and Corruption in North Macedonia;
Bojan Dukovski, Legal Advisor at the Specialist Public Prosecutor’s Office for Fighting Organised Crime and Corruption in North Macedonia;
Dr. Stefan Trunk, Senior Public Prosecutor, Head of the Department for Economic Crime and Legal Assistance at the Duisburg Public Prosecutor’s Office;
Andreas Stüve, Senior Public Prosecutor, Head of the Department for Organised Crime at the Duisburg Public Prosecutor’s Office;
Detlef Kreutzer, former Head of the Department for Organised Crime, Money Laundering and Cybercrime at the Hamburg Police;
Iris Rebe-Plößer, German Central Customs Authority, Customs Criminal Investigation Office.
The project tied in with the EU Twinning Project “Building of the Institutional Capacity of the Investigative Centres” in North Macedonia, which was also carried out by the IRZ in partnership with Croatia. This means that the results of the project will be put to further use. The IRZ will also be able to continue its successful partnership with those investigators who have already attended their training sessions. Both of these will contribute towards the success of the project.