Home Page
23 Jun 10

Macedonia: NGO Slams Electronic Communications Law

The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia will contest before the Constitutional Court a freshly voted law that will allow the police greater use of wiretapping and monitoring of personal electronic communications.
Sinisa Jakov Marusic

“We are assembling a team that will write the appeal before the court. All the amendments that we believe are against the basic human rights guaranteed by the constitution will be contested,” Keti Jandrijevska Jovanova from the Macedonian branch of the Helsinki Committee told Balkan Insight on Wednesday.

Jovanova explained that they will try to file their appeal before the court as soon as possible: “probably during the summer period so that the court be able to put it on the agenda in the fall”.

The controversial Law amending the Law on Electronic Communications passed the Parliament last Wednesday with the support of the ruling majority from the VMRO DPMNE party. 55 legislators supported the bill while only nine legislators in the 120 seat assembly voted against.

The Helsinki Committee argues that the amendments give too much freedom to the police to perform wiretapping and other forms of monitoring of personal electronic communication, in some cases without even requiring a court order. The human rights watchdog group argues that the loose formulations in the law create space for abuse and for the invasion of citizens’ privacy.

The NGO argues that the law goes against Article 17 of the constitution which guarantees the inviolability of the freedom and secrecy of correspondence and all other forms of communication as well as Article 25 which guarantees the respect and protection of the privacy of personal and family life, dignity and reputation.

Before the adoption of the amendments, Transparency Macedonia, the Open Society Institute-Macedonia and the Metamorphosis Foundation also stood against the new provisions. In a joint statement together with the Helsinki Committee they demanded their immediate withdrawal.

“The bill allows the Ministry to have “constant and direct access” to the electronic communications networks and facilities of the public communications networks operators and providers of public communications services, as well as “conditions for independent downloading of traffic data”, which would make the Republic of Macedonia one of the few, or probably the only country in the world in which a state authority has such powers, without the possibility for external control,”  the joint statement reads.

During the parliament discussion and voting last week ruling party lawmakers argued that the law will simply allow greater efficiency for police work and better results in the fight against crime and corruption.

But local human rights activist Mirjana Najcvevska told Balkan Insight that the interpretation of the law as it stands will allow the state to eavesdrop on citizens, tap their phones, and follow their SMS and e-mail correspondence without external control.

“I hope that this law will fail before the Constitutional Court because it is definitely against EU standards and directives,” Najcevska said.

For information on Serbia's controversial Law on Electronic Communications, click here.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus