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Macedonia Pushes New Lustration Law to Meet Criticism

March 23, 2012

After the existing lustration law became ensnared in the Constitutional court, Macedonia’s ruling party has drafted a new law that it says will provide more transparency in the process.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight, 23.03.2012
Skopje | Photo by: Balkan Insight

The new act should make dossiers on former police informants available to the public by posting them on the internet.

This should “negate suspicions that Lustration Commission [the state office tasked with carrying out lustration] has been selectively targeting critics of the government,” Silvana Boneva, the coordinator of the ruling VMRO DPMNE caucus in parliament, said.

Macedonia’s current Lustration Law bans revealing the identities of those named in the dossiers, or the dossiers themselves.

Boneva’s ruling centre-right party says that the draft has been worked out in cooperation with its junior partner, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, and the other coalition partners.

The provision is in line with the recent recommendations of the European Parliament. Earlier this month, in its annual report on Macedonia, the parliament urged the country’s Lustration Commission “to communicate its findings directly to the public”.

The second major novelty in the draft is that it expands the scope of lustration to include former directors of state companies who benefited from their privatization, which occurred mostly in the 1990s after the fall of Communism. Now they will also have to prove that they were not collaborators with the secret services.

The ruling party has not given up its intention to lustrate journalists and clergy although this has been contested before the Constitutional Court.

But, this time, these professionals will not be obliged to submit statements. Instead, anyone can ask for the lustration of certain journalist or cleric.

In January the Court temporarily froze 12 articles of the existing law, including the lustration of a number of professions, and limited its time span to 2019.

The Constitutional Court is expected to issue its final ruling on the law in the next few months.

Following the practice of many former Communist countries, Macedonia adopted a Lustration Law in 2008.

The aim was to rectify injustices from the Communist era, when people were tried and jailed based on information from police informants.

The law was initially made to tackle only current public office holders and candidates. But, last year, at the behest of the ruling party, the scope of professions was expanded to include not only former politicians, journalists and university professors but also lawyers, clergy and NGO activists.

The changes increased suspicions that the law was turning into a tool aimed at disciplining government critics, which the government strongly denies.

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