Macedonia shines light on totalitarian past with new lustration law

02/07/2012

The lustration process -- the public identification of those who collaborated with the former communist regime -- is back on track, three months after being derailed by a court ruling.

By Aleksandar Pavlevski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 02/07/12

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The process is aimed at identifying former collaborators and informants of the secret police. [Reuters]

The new law on lustration, passed in June, aims to remove from public office all former police informers and those who collaborated with the communist totalitarian regime. And beyond that, it would make public all such information: police files on former informants would be published online. Furthermore, the new law allows the investigation of those in the business community who may have profited through such links up until 2006.

"The new law on lustration is much better than the one that was previously adopted," Tome Adziev, president of the Commission for Verification of Facts told SETimes. "Not only public officials, the law also includes people that acquired large businesses in the investigated period. Lustration will be performed on businessman suspected of [gaining their] capital because of the proximity with the police at the expense of the people."

The bill, submitted by the main ruling party VMRO DPMNE, was supported by its Albanian partner, the Democratic Union for Integration, as well as two other Albanian parties: the NDP and DPA. The opposition Social Democrats voted against it.

The VMRO-DPMNE proposed this new, more narrowly focused law, after the Constitutional Court in late March suspended 12 controversial regulations contained in the previous lustration law, adopted in 2008.

VMRO-DPMNE deputy Antonio Milososki told fellow lawmakers that the process will make Macedonia a more democratic society.

"This law should reveal whether, for example a judge in Skopje, Bitola, Ohrid and Kicevo had a nice career because he was a good lawyer or a good collaborator of the secret services," Milososki noted.

The opposition Liberal Party's Ivon Velickovski disagreed, telling lawmakers "I am from the party that in 2006 proposed a law for lustration. And now I am for lustration, but not in this way." He is convinced that the government will use the law to select the candidate lists for councilors and mayors during the next local elections.

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Other opponents have said the law violates the constitutional principles that guarantee the protection of personal integrity and personal data. They suspect that the law will be used to discredit members of the opposition.

Adziev stressed that there will be no confiscation of property or nationalisation. Lustration, he insisted, is about giving people the truth about certain prominent persons.

Unofficially, the number of suspected collaborators could total several thousand people.

"I would say that we must first see how it works in practice and to see functioning of the Commission with new legislative changes. Right now the Commission [has been] given a great and powerful weapon in that they can publish parts of files. The moral of the lustration is that clearing the totalitarian past is a process in Macedonia," Ivica Bocevski, a member of the first working group that helped draft the measure, told SETimes.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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