North Macedonia - annual report 2018

Participants of the working visit by the Special Public Prosecutor on the roof terrace of the Federal Foreign Office (in the centre: Special Public Prosecutor Katica Janeva)
Participants of the working visit by the Special Public Prosecutor on the roof terrace of the Federal Foreign Office (in the centre: Special Public Prosecutor Katica Janeva)

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

The Stabilization and Association Agreement between North Macedonia and the EU entered into force in April 2004. The country has held the status of an EU accession candidate since December 2005. From 2015 to May 2017, the country experienced its deepest post-millennial political crisis, which involved the discovery of tens of thousands of wiretap protocols. There were also mass protests. Following the election at the end of 2016, it took until June 2017 for a new coalition government to enter office. An EU Senior Experts’ Group, headed by the German lawyer Reinhard Priebe, submitted a detailed and highly critical analysis of the situation of the legal system of North Macedonia in September 2017, which simultaneously highlights tasks that need to be dealt with in the future. After the failed referendum on the issue of the country‘s name, parliament returned a majority for the future state name of “North Macedonia“, so that it appears that the risk of new elections, which seemed possible for some time, has now been averted.

Overall Concept

The IRZ commenced its activities in North Macedonia in 2000 in the context of the Stability Pact and increased them considerably in the second half of the decade, also with the support of the Federal Foreign Office as part of the project “Promoting the rule-of-law principles of a constitutional state in South-East Europe“.

Partners to the IRZ in North Macedonia are the Ministry of Justice, the Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors, the Government‘s Agent for the ECHR, the non-governmental organisation “Institute for Democracy“ and academics from the Faculty of Law in Skopje. Regular joint events have been held with the Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors of North Macedonia since 2007, the year in which the institution was established. In recent years, the IRZ has also expanded the target group of its activities on the ground and their sustainability by means of law publications in the country’s language.

In each case they emphasise the influence of European law on national law and the necessity of developing a legal system that is consistent with the traditional principles of continental European law. Furthermore, the aim is to improve the quality of application of the law. Contact with the Ministry of Justice was quickly re-established after the new government came to power, leading to initial measures in the area of legislative advice.

Foci of Activity in 2018

Constitutional Court / Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Expert talks at the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia on legal procedures and organisational requirements for the introduction of comprehensive individual constitutional complaint within the law of North Macedonia
  • Participation of a judge of the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia of the regional conference organised with the Montenegro Constitutional Court in Budva, Montenegro, on the relationship between constitutional court jurisdiction and the supreme courts
  • Participation of the President and a judge of the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia of the regional conference organised by the IRZ in cooperation with the Serbian Constitutional Court in Belgrade, Serbia, on the topic of “Decisions by the constitutional courts in the area of abstract judicial review as a contribution to promoting the rule-of-law principles of a constitutional state“
  • Participation of the judges of the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia of the regional Constitutional Court Conference in the Brčko District, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the topic of “Tax law in the case-law of constitutional courts“
  • Publication of the sixth and seventh newsletters entitled “Current information on the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to (then) Macedonia” in the Macedonian and Albanian languages, in cooperation with the Government Agent for the ECHR
  • Workshop on the topic “Introduction of constitutional complaint in (then) Macedonia“ with the non-governmental organisation “Institute for Democracy“

Administration of Justice

  • Preparation of expert reports for the Ministry of Justice
    • on the draft law on administrative procedures
    • on the draft law on regulatory offences
    • on the question of requirements for the introduction of a comprehensive constitutional complaint within the law of North Macedonia
  • Publication of the European Law Journal “Evropsko pravo“, in cooperation with academics at the Faculty of Law in Skopje
  • Operation and enlargement of the website www.evropsko-pravo.info, at which “Evropsko pravo“ and other publications co-authored by the IRZ are available as downloads in the Macedonian and other regional languages
  • Conference marking the 20th anniversary of ECHR reform and North Macedonia‘s membership in the Council of Europe, including public presentation of a special edition of the Law Journal “Evropsko pravo“ on these topics
  • Distribution of specialist journals on the IRZ project work in relevant languages to selected project partners

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Working visit to Berlin by the Special Public Prosecutor of North Macedonia and some of her staff on the issue of the fight against organised crime and corruption among high-level officials

Basic and Further Training

  • Working visit to Germany by young judges and public prosecutors as part of the project “Promotion of young legal professionals in (then) Macedonia“
  • Participation by lawyers from North Macedonia in the first regional workshop “News from German law and the regional legal systems“ during the inaugural event for German-speaking alumni from the states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia in Belgrade
  • Participation of two Macedonian lawyers of the eighth “IRZ Summer School on German Law“ in Bonn

Criminal law and Criminal Procedure Law

  • Translation of the German Criminal Code (StGB)
  • Publication of this translation as a book with a technical introduction by Macedonian and German experts
  • Translation of the German Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO)

Projects funded by the European Union

EU Twinning Project: Strengthening of the penitentiary system and the probation service

The EU Twinning Project to support reform of the penitentiary system and probation in North Macedonia started at the end of August 2018 under the leadership of the IRZ. The junior partner in the 24-month project is the Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC) from the Netherlands. Equipped with a budget of €950,000, the project is part of the “National Strategy for the Development of the Penitentiary System of North Macedonia“ (2015–2019) and aims to provide support in two key areas:

  • preparation of proposals to strengthen institutional and administrative capacities within the penitentiary system, prioritising improvements in the management and operation of penitentiary systems as a guarantee for human rights in regard to the treatment of inmates;
  • development of a probation system for the implementation of probation measures and alternative sanctions, as well as improvement in the cooperation between relevant organisations and institutions in this area.

Implementation of the project began on 31 August 2018 with the arrival of the Resident Twinning Adviser (RTA) in Skopje and was launched with an official ceremony on 21 November 2018. The preliminary working plan, which will serve as the basis for ongoing implementation of the project, was adopted and signed during the opening ceremony. Moreover, the first measures to develop procedures and criteria for the maintenance of penitentiaries were carried out during the initial three months of the project.

In the coming months, the relevant legislation will be analysed, proposed improvements prepared, and sustainable further training measures developed for strengthening the management and monitoring capacities at penitentiaries and within the probation system, in each case in close cooperation with the Directorate for Enforcement of Sanctions within the Ministry of Justice of North Macedonia. In addition, a large number of workshops, seminars and study trips in Germany and the Netherlands will communicate established practices and recognised principles of the probation system.

Outlook

The IRZ aims to increase its contribution to the planned judicial reform, especially in the area of legislative advice, and hence to strengthen its support for the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans. In addition, the established activities in basic and further training will continue as a means of ensuring greater quality in the application of the law.

Macedonia - annual report 2017

Lecture on Hans Litten for the ELSA (European Law Student´s Association) student group of the Faculty of Law in Skopje
Lecture on Hans Litten for the ELSA (European Law Student´s Association) student group of the Faculty of Law in Skopje

Legal Policy Situation

The Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Macedonia and the EU has been in force since April 2004. The country has had the status of an EU-accession candidate since December 2005. From 2015 to May 2017, the country experienced its deepest post-millennial political crisis, during which tens of thousands of wiretap protocols were discovered. On top of that, there were mass protests. Following the election at the end of 2016, it took until June 2017 for a new social-democrat led coalition government to take office. An EU Senior Experts’ Group, headed by the German lawyer Reinhard Priebe, submitted a detailed and highly critical analysis of the situation of the Macedonian legal system in September 2017, which simultaneously highlights tasks that need to be dealt with in the future.

Overall Concept

The IRZ commenced its activities in Macedonia in the year 2000 in the context of the Stability Pact and increased them considerably in the second half of the decade. Since 2007, the year in which the Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors was established, for example, regular joint events have been held. The IRZ expanded the target group of its activities in Macedonia and their sustainability, too, by means of legal publications in the country’s language. The IRZ’s partners in Macedonia include the Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors, the Government’s Agent for the European Court of Human Rights and academics from the Faculty of Law in Skopje. It is particularly important to improve the quality of the application of law in Macedonia and to ensure a uniform orientation towards Continental European law, which would also be in line with the Macedonian tradition.

Foci of Activity 2017

Constitutional Law / Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Participation by a judge of the Macedonian Constitutional Court in the conference on the topic of “Equality before the law in Constitutional Court practice” organised in cooperation with the Montenegrin Constitutional Court in Budva, Montenegro
  • Participation by a judge of the Macedonian Constitutional Court in the conference on the topic of “Constitutional Court protection in criminal law” organised in cooperation with the Serbian Constitutional Court in Zlatibor, Serbia
  • Participation by two judges of the Macedonian Constitutional Court at the regional Constitutional Court in the conference on the topic of “Theory and practice of the independence of constitutional courts” in Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Fourth and fifth newsletter entitled “Current information on the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to Macedonia” in Macedonian and Albanian

Administration of Justice

  • Publication of the Macedonian European Law Journal “Evropsko pravo”, in cooperation with academics at the Faculty of Law in Skopje
  • Development of the website www.evropsko-pravo.info, from which “Evropsko pravo” as well as other publications in Macedonian and other languages of the region, co-authored by the IRZ, are available for download
  • Participation of a Macedonian legal scholar in a workshop on the topic of “Methods of coming to terms with the past” held in collaboration with the Institute for Eastern European Law of Munich in Munich, Nuremberg and Regensburg
  • Distribution of specialist publications in related languages from the IRZ’s project work to selected project partners
  • Participation by a Macedonian scholar in the interdisciplinary symposium co-organised by the Southeast Europe Association “Legal transformation in South-Eastern Europe using former Yugoslavia as an example: prerequisites, parties involved, failures and successes” in Berlin

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Publication of the conference proceedings “Sentencing and the application of alternative measures in Macedonian law” together with the Association for Criminal Law and Criminology

Basic and Further Training

  • Seminars in the training programme of the Judicial Academy in Skopje on the following topics:
    • Consumer Protection based on the amended Consumer Protection Law and other provisions
    • Jurisdiction of the court and applicable law according to the new PIL act
    • Notice of dismissal pending a change of contract pursuant to Article 78 of the Labour Relations Act
  • Participation by a young Macedonian lawyer in the “IRZ German law summer school” in Bonn
  • Lecture on the life and work of Hans Litten, a lawyer persecuted during the National Socialist period (joint event with the student group of the Faculty of Law of the European Law Student’s Association, ELSA) in Skopje
  • Introductory event for the working visit planned for 2018 as part of the project “Supporting young lawyers in Macedonia” on the topic of “Introduction to German law”
  • Participation of Macedonian students in the regional block seminar “Introduction to German law” at the Faculty of Law in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Outlook

In close consultation with the German Embassy in Skopje, the IRZ is currently examining how it can contribute to the judicial reform planned by the new government. There is a perennial related project already in place to support young lawyers in Macedonia, which began in 2017 and will be continued in 2018. Furthermore, the IRZ will keep on cooperating with the Macedonian Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors and continue its series of law publications.

Macedonia - annual report 2016

Dr. Aleksandar Spasov (right) during his introduction to the joint event with ELSA (European Law Students Association) Skopje on the abuse of civil law during the National Socialist regime

Dr. Aleksandar Spasov (right) during his introduction to the joint event with ELSA (European Law Students Association) Skopje on the abuse of civil law during the National Socialist regime

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

The Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Macedonia and the EU has been in force since April 2004. The country has had the status of an EU-accession candidate since December 2005. The European Commission’s Progress Reports, which have been increasingly critical in recent years, continually call to increase efforts in the sphere of the rule of law and for improvements in the quality of the judiciary. Moreover, various domestic political crises and conflicts were also observed in 2016. These amongst other things led to the scheduling of early elections, which have, however, had to be repeatedly delayed.

The initial situation for legal reform is characterised by restricted staffing capacities in the judicial institutions and a tendency towards hybrid statutes which combine elements of continental European and Anglo-American law.

Overall Concept

The IRZ commenced its activities in Macedonia in 2000 in the context of the Stability Pact and considerably increased them in the second half of the decade. Regular joint events have, for instance, been held since 2007, the year in which the Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors was established.

The IRZ also expanded the target group of its activities in Macedonia and their sustainability by means of legal publications in the country’s language. This includes the series of books “Contributions from the work of the IRZ in Macedonia” and the publication of a Macedonian European Law Journal. In two further publication series, material from the European Court of Human Rights is translated into Macedonian in cooperation with the Case-Law Information and Publications Division of the European Court of Human Rights and the Macedonian Government Agent for the Court in Strasbourg, and disseminated in book form and on the Internet. In this context, a six-monthly information service on the Strasbourg case-law is published in Macedonian and Albanian.

The IRZ’s partners in Macedonia include the Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors, the Government’s Agent for the European Court of Human Rights, the Association of Criminal Law and Criminology and academic researchers from the Faculty of Law in Skopje.

It is particularly important to improve the quality of the application of law in Macedonia and ensuring a uniform orientation towards continental European law, which would also be in line with the Macedonian tradition. The IRZ therefore focuses on supporting the application of the law by means of further training events and publications. Further important topics are human rights and their enforceability, as well as maintaining contacts with young lawyers, who constitute a major target group as potential future multipliers. They are also addressed by events on German and European law.

Foci of Activity 2016

Constitutional Law / Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Publication and promotion of the handbook on European Data Protection Law in Macedonian in Skopje
  • Participation by the President of the Macedonian Constitutional Court and by a further judge at the conference on the topic of “Constitutional court review of elections” organised in cooperation with the Montenegrin Constitutional Court in Budva, Montenegro
  • Seminar at the Macedonian Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors on the topic of “The significance of Article 1 of the First Supplementary Protocol on the European Convention on Human Rights” in Skopje
  • Seminar at the Macedonian Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors on the topic of “Principles of electoral law”
  • Second and third newsletter entitled “Current information on the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to Macedonia” in Macedonian and Albanian

Administration of Justice

  • Publication of the Macedonian European Law Journal “Evropsko pravo” (European law) in cooperation with academic researchers at the Faculty of Law in Skopje
  • Publication of the website www.evropskopravo.online, on which “Evropsko pravo” is offered for downloading along with other publications in Macedonian and other languages of the region, which the IRZ co-publishes
  • Distribution of specialist publications in related languages from the IRZ’s project work to selected project partners
  • Criminal Law and Penitentiary Enforcement Conference in Skopje entitled “Sentencing and the application of alternative measures in Macedonian law” together with the Association for Criminal Law and Criminology

Basic and Further Training

  • Research project in Bonn and Cologne entitled “Abuse of civil law in authoritarian systems”
  • Guest lecture entitled “Dealing with the legal past in Germany” in cooperation with the faculty group ELSA (European Law Students’ Association)

Outlook

The IRZ will continue to focus its activities in Macedonia on European law and human rights in 2017. In this context, it will continue cooperating with the Macedonian Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors in basic and further training in various fields of law and further seminars on various fields of law with particular practical significance. The IRZ will also continue its series of law publications.

Download the entire IRZ annual report in PDF format here: annual report 2016.