Unsure how to implement key parts of Macedonia's new Lustration Law, the Commission tasked with enforcing it is seeking experts' help.
Macedonian flag | Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Days after a new law aimed at rooting out former police collaborators came into force, members of the Lustration Commission are still not sure how to enforce key parts of it - and are seeking help.
One question causing debate is whether to investigate deceased people.
“The previous law stated that lustration does not apply to deceased persons, but the new law has no such provision,” notes Cedomir Damjanovski, a member of the commission who, along with some of his colleagues, now insists on experts' advice.
“We need legal experts or the parliament interpret this and other matters, so that we are clear on how to proceed,” he adds.
Another problem is the envisaged investigation of so-called oligarchs who got rich during the 1990s in the period of transition from Communism to a democracy, to see whether they, too, had ties to the old secret police.
As part of the investigation, the law stipulates checking their family trees. But, experts are needed “to explain to us who should investigate these family trees”, Damjanovski maintains.
Two weeks ago, the Lustration Commission was also at odds over whether sensitive secret police files should be entrusted to external volunteers.
The President of the Commission, Tome Adziev, who proposed engaging external volunteers to help with the many files, was attacked by other members for disregarding secrecy and privacy legislation.
Macedonia is following in the steps of many former Communist states that have enacted lustration laws as a way to address past injustices stemming from politically motivated judicial proceedings.
Macedonia’s parliament passed a new lustration law in June, after the Constitutional Court scrapped many key provisions from the 2008 law, narrowing its time span and the range of professions subjected to checks.
Unlike the first law, which at the beginning at least enjoyed wide support, the new law was adopted only thanks to the votes of the ruling VMRO DPMNE party of Prime Minister Nikola Gruveski.
One key novelty in the new law is that the police files and names of those found to be former collaborators will be published on the internet. The investigation of the oligarchs is also a novelty.
The first law soon proved controversial with opposition parties who began accusing the government of using it to conduct a political “witch hunt”.
The new law, designed to amend errors in the last one, has encountered controversy from the start.
Earlier this month, a group of intellectuals, part of the civil initiative called Citizens for European Macedonia, GEM, launched lawsuits against MPs of the ruling parties that had voted for the new law.
The group insists that the MPs committed a crime by adopting provisions that had been previously judged unconstitutional.