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North Macedonia - annual report 2018

Published: July 15, 2019
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

Administration of Justice

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

Basic and Further Training

Criminal law and Criminal Procedure Law

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:

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.