By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
In spite of a Constitutional Court ruling suspending the lustration process last week, journalists, clergy and NGO activists are still being vetted for past police collaboration.
Macedonians working in these professions on Tuesday were hurrying to meet the January 31 deadline to submit statements to the so-called Lustration Commission.
They are tasked with swearing that they did not collaborate with the secret police during the Communist era or afterwards.
The Commission, a government office charged with managing the process, insists that it is not ignoring the Court ruling.
“The commission works according the current law until the Court’s decision is published in the official gazette or the Court has informed us in a written document,” says Tome Adziev, head of the commission.
Last Wednesday the Constitutional Court temporarily suspended 12 problematic provisions of the country’s so-called Lustration Law. Among other thing, the Court suspended lustration of people in a wide range of professions, including clergy, journalists, judges, lawyers, NGOs and others.
The suspension is in force until the Court decides whether these provisions are constitutional.
Jugoslav Milenkovic, spokesperson for the court, said they will send their decision in writing to the commission “by the end of this week”.
Meanwhile, many people fear incurring steep penalties for not submitting their written statements on time. The penalties for being range up to €4,000.
Macedonia followed in the steps of many former Communist states that have enacted similar laws to address past injustices related to politically motivated court proceedings.
All persons found to be former collaborators are supposed to resign from office, though if they comply they are guaranteed anonymity.
The Commission says it has received some 10,000 sworn statements so far and has processed almost half of them. Up till now it has found 26 so-called collaborators but some of them have filed appeals to the courts.
Originally, the law was intended at “cleansing” only current office holders and potential candidates from public office.
The move by the ruling centre-right VMRO DPMNE party to include a wide variety of professions sparked a heated debate, with critics accusing the government of political intimidation.
This is the second time that the Court has acted to curb lustration laws.
In March 2010 the Court shortened its timeframe, which was originally intended to be applicable until 2008.
The court ruled that the law could only cover the Communist period from 1945 to 1991 and not the period after independence from Yugoslavia when Macedonia became a democracy.