By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Macedonia’s new Lustration Law, aimed at rooting out former police collaborators, may encounter the fate as the previous one, as key provisions are again contested before the Constitutional Court.
Macedonia’s Helsinki Committee for Human Rights and a retired lawyer, Stamen Filipov – in two separate motions filed to the court on Monday – have contested 13 provisions of the new law adopted in June.
“The motions mainly tackle the time span of the law and the provisions that allow the publication of names of former collaborators without a court order, only with a decision by the Lustration Commission,” Uranija Pirovska, from the Helsinki Committee, said.
This is the third time since 2008, when the first lustration law was adopted, that a lustration law has been caught up in legal disputes before the Constitutional Court.
Macedonia’s main ruling party, VMRO DPMNE, pushed for the new law after the Constitutional Court scrapped 12 provisions of the old law earlier this year.
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, the year that a public information access law was adopted. It also still envisages lustration of journalists and NGO activists.
“We should not remain silent at the tendentious non-compliance with the previous decisions of the Constitutional Court that allow blatant violations of human rights,” Pirovska said.
One of the main novelties in the new law is the ability of the Lustration Commission, a state office tasked with enforcing the law, to publish names and dossiers of persons deemed to have been collaborators.
The Helsinki Committee also contests this provision, arguing that the commission is being given the right of a court, which is also unconstitutional as no appeal procedure is predicted.
Macedonia has followed 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.
But rthe law has been dogged with controversy, with critics accusing the government of misusing it to discredit prominent intellectuals known for their criticism of government policies.
In July, a group of intellectuals, part of the civil initiative Citizens for European Macedonia, GEM, submitted law suits against MPs from the ruling parties for having supported the new law that they describe as unconstitutional.