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Macedonia Court Narrows Lustration Law Scope

March 28, 2012

The Constitutional Court on Wednesday scrapped 12 controversial provisions of the Lustration Law, which aims to purge former police informants from public office.

By Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight, 28.03.2012

 

Macedonian Constitutional Court | Archive Photo

Wednesday’s ruling by the court was final, after it temporarily suspended the 12 provisions in January so that it could check them in detail.

The Court ruled that it was not constitutional to oblige people from a wide range of professions, including clergy, journalists, NGO activists and others, to swear that they did not collaborate with the secret police during the Communis period and 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.

This is the second time that the Court has tackled this contentious piece of legislation, which was adopted in 2008 at the behest of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s ruling VMRO DPMNE party.

The ruling party last week announced it will soon propose a new Lustration Law that will answer some criticisms by putting all the findings concerning collaborators on the internet.

The new law will limit the lustration period until 2006, the year when the country adopted a law on public information access.

Instead of tasking various professionals to submit statements to the Lustration Commission, citizens will have to request lustration of certain individuals that they suspect were spies.

Macedonia followed in the steps of many former Communist states that have enacted similar laws in order to address past injustices stemming from politically motivated judicial proceedings.

All persons found to be former collaborators are obliged to resign from office and if they do so they are guaranteed anonymity.

A first move by the Constitutional Court to curb the law in 2010 did not last long. In March 2011, parliament again widened the span and made it applicable until 2019.

It was then that MPs voted to broaden the scope of professions subject to inspection to include journalists, NGOs, clergy, professors, lawyers and members of other professions.

The move to investigate such a wide variety of professions sparked heated debate. The opposition Social Democrats and some of those deemed to be collaborators accused the ruling party of selectively applying the law for political reasons.

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