Civic group slaps lawsuits on half the members of the Macedonian parliament for having supported a recently adopted Lustration Law that they describe as unconstitutional.
GEM members at a press conferrence in Skopje | Photo by: GEM
A group of intellectuals, part of the civil initiative Citizens for European Macedonia, GEM, has submitted law suits against MPs from the ruling parties, including the speaker of parliament, Trajko Veljanovski.
GEM is suing the legislators for “non-compliance with a decision by the Constitutional Court”, a criminal act according to article 377, paragraph 3, of the Macedonian Penal Code.
This comes after these MPs in June passed a new Lustration Law, which, according to GEM, contains the same provisions that were already in the law previously annulled by the Constitutional Court.
Macedonia followed in the steps of many former Communist states that have enacted similar laws as a way to address past injustices stemming from politically motivated judicial proceedings.
The ruling VMRO DPMNE led majority proposed the new, more narrowly focused law after the Constitutional Court in late March scrapped 12 controversial provisions of the previous Lustration law, which was adopted in 2008.
In March, the Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to oblige people from a wide range of professions, including clergy, journalists, NGO activists and others, to swear that they had not collaborated with the secret police either during the Communist period or afterwards.
It also shortened the time span of the law that was previously applicable until 2019. The Court ruled that that it may cover only the Communist period from 1945 to 1991 and not the period after the country gained independence from Yugoslavia and became a democratic society.
The new law now allows lustration to be applied until 2006, the year that a public information access law was adopted. It also again envisages lustration of journalists and NGO activists.
“These legislators de facto voted for anti-constitutional legal provisions that the Constitutional Court has annulled in several past decisions,” Ljubomir Frckoski, a Skopje-based professor of Law and former Macedonia Interior Minister, said.
Macedonian legislators are immune from prosecution while in office, but GEM insists that in this case their immunity should be stripped.
None of the legislators that Balkan Insight tried to contact on Monday were available for comment.
Most GEM members are prominent intellectuals, known for their stark criticism of government policies.
Some, like Frckoski, and the head of the Open Society Foundation Macedonia, Vladimir Milcin, have already been pinpointed by the Lustration Commission, a state office tasked with applying lustration, as possible former spies.
They have described this as retaliation for their open criticism of the government.
In its latest report in April, the Macedonian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights noted suspicions that the law is being misused to target government critics, which they said was “against the Council of Europe’s recommendations that the process [of lustration] should not turn into retaliation”.