Activist Sues Macedonian President Over Lustration Law

A human right activist is suing President Gjorge Ivanov for approving the new Lustration law that some rights groups deem unconstitutional.Mirjana Najcevska, former head of the Macedonian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, is suing President Ivanov for “non-compliance with a decision by the Constitutional Court”, a criminal act according to article 377, paragraph 3, of the Macedonian Penal Code.The suit comes after legislators from the ruling parties in June passed a new Lustration Law, which Najcevska says contains the same provisions that were in the old Lustration Law, previously annulled by the Constitutional Court.

The President approved the new law on June 20.

Earlier this month, a group of intellectuals, part of the civil initiative called Citizens for European Macedonia, GEM, submitted law suits against MPs from the ruling parties, including the speaker of parliament, Trajko Veljanovski over the same issue.

Macedonia has followed in the steps of many former Communist states that have enacted lustration laws as a way to address past injustices stemming from politically motivated judicial proceedings.

The ruling VMRO DPMNE party passed the new law after the Constitutional Court scrapped many key provisions from the previous 2008 law, narrowing its time span and the range of professions subjected to checks.

In March, the Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to oblige people from a wide range of professions, including clergy, journalists, NGO activists and others, to swear that they had not collaborated with the secret police either 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.

The new law allows lustration to be applied until 2006, which is when a public information access law was adopted. It also envisages lustration of journalists and NGO activists, although in a different form.

The first law proved controversial with opposition parties, which accused the government of using it to conduct a political “witch hunt”. The opposition also disputes the new law, suspecting that it will only boost politically motivated proceedings.

In order for the law suits to take effect, the President and of the MPs must be stripped of their political immunity first.

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