Macedonia Passes New Lustration Law

Macedonia’s parliament passed a new Lustration law on Wednesday evening which aims to purge former police informants from public offices.The law submitted by the main ruling centre-right VMRO DPMNE party was also endorsed by their junior partners, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI. The opposition Social Democrats voted against it.A key component of the new law is that it allows the police dossiers of former informants to be posted on the internet.

It also permits the investigation of the country’s oligarchs, who got rich during the 1990s as the country transitioned from communism to a democratic oriented society, to see whether they had ties to secret police.

The government insists the law will provide much needed transparency as the country seeks to address its communist past.

The opposition on the other hand says the law violates constitutional principles that guarantee protection of personal integrity and data. It also suspects that the law will be used to discredit opposition members in the wake of the local elections slated for early next year.

Macedonia follows in the steps of many former communist states that have enacted similar laws as a way to address past injustices stemming from politically motivated judicial proceedings.

The ruling VMRO DPMNE proposed the new, more narrowly focused law after the Constitutional Court in late March scrapped the twelve controversial provisions of the previous Lustration law, which was brought in 2008.

In March, 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 Communist 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.

The new law allows lustration to be applied until 2006, the year a public information access law was adopted.

The new law does not name a wide range of professions for lustration, but people are given the right to ask for lustration of someone if they suspect he or she was a former informant.

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