Annual Report: Macedonia 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Macedonia 2010

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Head of state Gjorge Ivanov (succeeded Branko Crvenovski in May)
Head of government Nikola Gruevski
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 2 million
Life expectancy 74.1 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 17/16 per 1,000
Adult literacy 97 per cent

Little progress was made in prosecuting war crimes arising from the 2001 internal conflict. Measures were taken to address impunity for ill-treatment by the police and prison conditions. Roma continued to suffer discrimination.

Background

Greece continued to dispute the name of the country. In January a hearing opened at the International Court of Justice in proceedings initiated by Macedonia in November 2008; both countries claimed that the other had violated a 1995 interim agreement, in which Macedonia had temporarily agreed to use the name the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece had agreed not to block Macedonia's membership of international organizations but had blocked membership of NATO in 2008.

In October the European Commission (EC) recommended opening negotiations on accession, but in December EU Foreign Ministers postponed their decision at Greece's request.

NGOs expressed concerns at measures taken by the government to reinforce Macedonia's claims to a historic identity (including the building of monuments at public expense), and the increasing influence of the Macedonian Orthodox Church on the secular state. The Constitutional Court in April abolished Article 26 of the Law on Primary Education which had provided for the introduction of religious education.

Justice system – war crimes

Proceedings in the case of the "Mavrovo" road workers, returned to Macedonia for prosecution from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Tribunal), were adjourned in May pending extradition from Germany of one of the accused. The Macedonian workers were allegedly abducted in August 2001 by the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army, ill-treated, sexually violated and threatened with death before being released.

No progress was reported in three other cases returned by the Tribunal.

Impunity continued for the enforced disappearance in 2001 of three ethnic Albanians and the abduction of 13 ethnic Macedonians and one Bulgarian.

Torture and other ill-treatment

In February Macedonia ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture; the Ombudsman's Office was appointed as the national preventive mechanism to give effect to the Protocol, and was empowered to co-operate with NGOs.

Both police and NGOs reported a decline in torture and other ill-treatment. This followed the disbanding of the special "Alfi" police units outside Skopje; improvements in investigations by the Ministry of Interior Sector for Internal Control and Professional Standards (SICPS); and the introduction of custody records at police stations. However, judges and prosecutors failed to initiate investigations into allegations of ill-treatment, even when detainees brought before the court showed signs of ill-treatment.

In March, following an investigation into the alleged beating of Jovica Janevski at Tetovo Police Station in 2008, the SICPS referred the case to the Tetovo Public Prosecutor, who had previously failed to open an investigation into the allegations.

The Ministry of Justice initiated a Strategic Plan to address "deplorable" prison conditions reported by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture in 2008, including the urgent refurbishment of several prisons, facilities for prisoners, and the strengthening and training of prison staff.