- Published: July 15, 2019
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.
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.
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.