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Macedonia Court Scraps Lustration Verdicts

May 17, 2012

A court has cleared the names of 15 former and current public office-holders after the country’s Lustration Commission ruled they had been police informants.

 

Skopje | Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

The Administrative Court in Skopje accepted the appeals of the 15 and scrapped the decisions of the Lustration Commission.

The state office is tasked with carrying out the Lustration Law, which aims to purge former police informants from public office.

The court found that the commission’s decisions, enacted over a year ago, were made on the basis of old provisions of the Lustration Law that earlier this year were pronounced unconstitutional.

In March the Constitutional Court annulled 12 controversial provisions of the Lustration Law, significantly narrowing the law’s scope.

“In its decision-making, the court called upon the Constitutional Court decision that annulled 12 provisions of the Lustration law as conflicting with the constitution,” Isamedin Limani, the president of the Constitutional Court, told Balkan Insight.

The court has advised all 15 current or former office-holders to personally pick up the court’s ruling and has informed the Lustration Commission of its decision.

Some prominent names who were cleared include Vladimir Milcin, the head of the Macedonian Open Society Foundation, Slobodan Ugrinovski, head of a small opposition party, “Tito’s Left Forces”, as well as Supreme Court judges and several former state officials.

The Constitutional Court in March ruled that it was unconstitutional to oblige people from professions including clergy, journalists, NGO activists and others to swear that they had never collaborated with the secret police 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.

“This development [the latest decision] was expected after the Constitutional Curt scrapped key provisions of the law, because there is no longer a legal framework for the proceedings of the Lustration Commission,” Tome Adziev, head of the commission, said.

Adziev said that if parliament adopted a new draft Lustration Law that is already in procedure, they will look again at the 15 cases.

But some members of the commission oppose the planned new law, saying that the draft recently submitted to parliament by the ruling VMRO DPMNE party is flawed.

“The solicitor that wrote it [the new draft] is either an amateur or works against the interests of the country, because this would place Macedonia among those countries that massively violate human rights,” Cedomir Damjanovski warns.

Janakie Vitanovski, another member of the commission, agrees that the new law “will not be applicable because this is the third time that the same decisions are being proposed, although they have been deemed in conflict with the constitution”.

The law, aimed at purging former police informants from public office, was originally passed in 2008 on the behest of Nikola Gruevski’s government. But the process soon came under fire from critics who accused the ruling party of using the law to target its opponents.

Under the law people who found to have been former collaborators are to be stripped of office. The commission has so far pronounced over 30 people as former informants.

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