Macedonian court decision to limit lustration sparks controversy

02/02/2012

Many citizens are concerned that the constitutional court decision to exempt large groups of people from lustration may lead to further human rights abuses.

By Misko Taleski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 02/02/12

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The constitutional court maintains lustration should be limited to 1945-1991, and only to current officials or people who are seeking public office. [Misko Taleski/SETimes]

A preliminary ruling by Macedonia's constitutional court to limit the scope of lustration cases -- examining which citizens collaborated with the former Yugoslav secret police -- has sparked a heated debate.

Last week, the court temporarily blocked the implementation of 12 articles of the lustration law -- therefore exempting former officials, journalists, lawyers or members of NGOs, foundations and religious organisations from being lustrated. The court is expected to issue a final ruling on the case within two months.

Only current officials and people seeking public office now fall under lustration.

The court first issued its opinion about the lustration law nine months ago, Professor Savo Klimovski of the Law Faculty in Skopje told SETimes, but since then, the ruling majority made amendments and additions to the law prompting a repeat review.

Zvonimir Jankulovski, a law professor at American College in Skopje, argues that the court's decision was unexpected and does not coincide with Macedonia's legal and democratic progress.

"Macedonia's lustration law is very solid and written on recommendations of the Council of Europe. We have no problem with the law but with the [remnants of the former] system. [It's] as if the court wants to justify the spying in the past through this decision," Jankulovski told SETimes.

Some said they are concerned about the potential for further abuse by secret police collaborators.

"In the past, the [Yugoslav secret police] UDB protected the snitches and now they have the constitutional court," 48-year-old Skopje resident Petar Trajanovski told SETimes.

The court's former president, Judge Trendafl Ivanovski, collaborated with the secret police and was forced out from his job two years ago.

"The court seems stuck in the period before 1990. Evidently, the court has not succeed in utilising the potential power to moderate the [lustration] process and the possibilities for its abuse," Jankulovski said.

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The court is comprised of nine judges appointed by parliament with majority vote, and their mandate lasts nine years without the right to be reappointed.

Macedonia's lustration commission will respect the court decision, commission President Tome Adziev told SETimes.

Adziev explained that until the court files a final verdict, only the 1945-1991 cases can be lustrated.

"If we want successful lustration, the process must be comprehensive," he said.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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