Annual Report: Macedonia 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Macedonia 2010

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In June, the European Court of Human Rights made a preliminary consideration of an application made by Jasmina Sulja, the partner of Sabri Asani, an ethnic Albanian who died after allegedly being beaten while in police custody in January 2000. No effective investigation had been carried out, denying Jasmina Sulja an effective remedy.

Counter-terror and security

The Prosecutor failed to respond to a claim filed by Khaled el-Masri in January against Macedonia for its role in his unlawful abduction, detention and illtreatment for 23 days in 2003, before being transferred to the custody of US authorities and flown to Afghanistan, where he was allegedly subjected to torture and other ill-treatment. The European Court of Human Rights held preliminary hearings following his application against Macedonia.

Freedom of expression

In March, the police failed to protect around 150 students – demonstrating against a government proposal to build a church in Skopje's central square – from attack by a large counter-demonstration, reportedly organized by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Public order charges were brought against nine demonstrators and seven counter demonstrators. Three student organizers were charged with failing to protect public safety. In April a parliamentary committee called for an investigation; the SICPS found that police had acted correctly. A November march in Skopje on the UN Day of Tolerance passed without incident.

Discrimination

Anti-discrimination legislation, required as part of the EU accession process, did not reach the statutes. The draft failed to meet international and EU standards and many NGOs complained that they had not been consulted in the drafting process.

In April the Constitutional Court ruled unconstitutional provisions of the 2008 Law on Health Insurance on the payment of child benefit only to mothers living in municipalities with an annual birth rate below 2.1 children per 1,000 people. These provisions would have discriminated against ethnic Albanian and other mothers from minority communities.

Roma

Progress on addressing discrimination against Roma remained uneven. A registration programme, coordinated by UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, and implemented by Romani NGOs, significantly reduced the numbers of undocumented Roma.

Romani children's access to education was improved by government measures to provide free text books and transport, and scholarships for secondary students. Building work began on a secondary school in Šuto Orizari, a predominantly Roma municipality. However, an increasing number of children attended effectively segregated schools.

The EC in November reported negatively on Macedonia's progress regarding the Roma. Revised National Action Plans (NAP) for the Decade of Roma Inclusion were not adopted until May.

The government failed to allocate any funds to implement the NAP for Improving the Status of Romani Women. UNIFEM, the UN Development Fund for Women, supported research into Romani women's experience of state services.

Some 140 homeless Roma who had protested about their living conditions in ?i?ino Selo were evicted at night in September to a holiday centre where they had no access to education, health care or work. Another 20 families were threatened with eviction from the Aerodrom municipality of Skopje. The government failed to provide health care and housing to homeless Romani children as young as nine years of age, reported to be intravenously injecting heroin.

Refugees

A Law on Asylum and Temporary Protection established an administrative court to hear appeals against rejection of refugee status. However, few of the 1,700 Roma and Ashkalia from Kosovo, who had been granted subsidiary protection, received access to a full and fair procedure for determining their need for international protection.

According to UNHCR, some 350 people applied to return to Kosovo. Those who remained were eligible for local integration, but the strategy remained to be approved by the government.