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News 30 Apr 13

Macedonia Accused of Concealing Discrimination

Macedonia’s top anti-discrimination body is turning a blind eye to widespread cases of discrimination in state institutions, local NGOs say.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Skopje | Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

NGOs united in the Anti-Discrimination Network have urged Macedonia's parliament not to accept the annual report for 2012 that the state Anti-Discrimination Commission presented on Monday.

They say the report shows that the commission failed to do its primary job of acting on people’s complains and determining cases of discrimination present in public institutions.

“What is particularly concerning is the practice of the commission of avoiding determining the existence or non-existence of discrimination based on filed complaints,” the Network said.

They say that in many cases the commission aborted an investigation based on arbitrary findings that the institution in question had showed a desire to correct its behaviour.

“This prevents determining responsibility about who is discriminating, and prevents victims from seeking further legal protection,” they say.

In its annual report, the commission notes that people mostly complained of discrimination in the Interior Ministry, the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry, the Health Ministry and in many municipalities.

Most complaints concern cases of reported ethnic discrimination, often against the Roma population. Health care is the second most reported field of discrimination.  

In 2012 the commission says it admitted 75 complaints, resolving 43 of them.

In the report, the commission admits that in many “resolved” cases it aborted procedures for determining discrimination. But it argues that this was for positive reasons, centering on the the willingness of state institutions to immediately correct their actions.

“It is a positive thing that the majority of potential discriminators - state institutions - on our recommendation showed willingness to cease acts of discrimination during the process of investigating the complaint - hence some complaints were successfully solved by becoming irrelevant,” it said.

In the report, the also commission complained that it was understaffed and underfunded for its work.

The Anti-Discrimination Network of NGOs insists that halted investigations cannot be counted as resolved cases, and that this creates an unrealistic picture of the problem.

The Network was formed in 2010 by local human rights NGOs, including the Macedonian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights and the Open Society Institute – Macedonia.

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