News 14 Jul 15

Macedonia Scraps Controversial Lustration Law

Following criticism from Brussels, Macedonia is preparing to end the controversial lustration process, aimed at rooting out former secret police collaborators, deeming it mission accomplished.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Macedonian Lustration Comission | Photo by: kvf.org.mk

Legislators from Macedonia's ruling parties on Monday submitted a bill to parliament that will end application of the controversial Lustration Law on September 1.

The bill, which is likely to pass, says that the Lustration Commission, the state office for rooting out former secret police collaborators, has completed its task, which means the law has accomplished its goal.

The proposal of the bill comes after Brussels criticised the lustration process.

In June, as part of the EU effort to resolve the political crisis over mass surveillance claims, the European Commission handed Macedonia a report containing a long list of reforms.

Among other recommendations, the report urged the authorities to “revise/repeal the Law on Lustration and its implementation”, on the grounds that “ideological or party reasons [are] used as grounds for lustration”.

The criticism came after tapes of officials’ conversations released by the opposition suggested that the government of Nikola Gruevski had been meddling with the lustration process.

However, the head of the Lustration Commission, Tome Adziev, who last year was re-elected to lead the body until 2019, insisted that its work has been clean and fair. The Brussels report was “based on insufficient data”, he said.

He said that despite what the enemies of lustration claimed, the process had not been abused to target the government's opponents, and would wrap up in the next few months as a “historic gain for the country”.

Macedonia followed in the steps of many former Communist states that brought in lustration laws as a way to address past injustices stemming from politically-motivated prosecutions.

But ever since the commission started work in Macedonia in 2009, it has been marred by controversy.

The opposition said the process was misused to attack government critics and in December 2012, it removed two of its members from the commission in protest.

The commission has so far combed through thousands of secret files and declared over 200 people former collaborators. By law these people are now banned from working in state institutions.

Some, like the former head of the Macedonian constitutional court, Trendafil Jovanovski, are now suing the state in international human rights courts.

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