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Fourth session of Working Group 3 – Judiciary and Fundamental Rights (Chapter 23) “Constitutional Court Reform Related to Chapter 23”

At the fourth working session of the National Convention on the European Union in the Republic of Macedonia on the topic “Constitutional Court Reform Related to Chapter 23” of Working Group 3 – Judiciary and Fundamental Rights held on 12.02.2019 in the MP’s Club, it was discussed about the need to free the judiciary from political influence. “All previous recommendations that the National Convention refers to the Government can be reduced to one basic conclusion, that it is necessary to act in the direction of creating institutions independent of political influence,” said the coordinator of the NCEU-MK and EMRM President Mileva Gjurovska opening the session. Gjurovska said that for that purpose open debates are needed, in which besides the experts, the citizens will be included. The debate process and the recommendations that help Macedonia fulfill the conditions for European integration, as it was said, are not only the institutions, but the entire society. In doing so, politics have no right to interfere in the exercise of the freedom and rights of citizens. Frequent changes in the Constitution make him an instrument for achieving political goals, and he must be the guardian of the rights and freedoms of citizens.

Minister of Justice, Renata Deskoska said that “in the system of protection of human rights and in general the concern for constitutionality and legality, the Constitutional Court undoubtedly has one of the most important roles and must take on the role of protector of the Constitution and of constitutionality, and not to be a factor that will cause constitutional earthquakes. ” According to her, in the Republic of Macedonia some of the problems arise from the shortcomings in the constitutional framework for the work of the Constitutional Court. Also, it is particularly important to show personal integrity by those sitting in the Constitutional Court, Deskoska added, who said that he expects in the process of reforms and the desire to establish a system of rule of law, the Constitutional Court should act in accordance with the strategic determination of the Republic Macedonia. One of the key problems noted in the actions of the Constitutional Court, as Deskoska said, is that he often had the mask of a political authority instead of a neutral body that would only be interested in the protection of the Constitution and human rights in the sphere in which they is given as a right.

The professor of the Faculty of Law at UKIM, Gordana Siljanovska, expressed her hope that this will not be like waiting for Godot and that our Constitutional Court will finally become proactive and will play an important role in the democratization of the state, as in many countries. This means that the “unanimous communist assembly with MPs who vote as the party leaders say” will be abandoned instead of being an institution that is fighting for democracy.

The Director of the Academy of Judges and Prosecutors, Natasha Gaber-Damjanovska, pointed out that it is necessary to make the reforms fully for the Constitutional Court to be not only efficient but also effective, since so far from all previous cases in just 1 eventually 2 cases there has been a violation of rights. Also, according to her, reforms of the rules of procedure, which is an act since 1992 and which is more an obstacle in the courts work, were also required.

Slovak expert Radoslaw Prochaska, a candidate for a constitutional judge of the Slovak Republic, said that the work of the Constitutional Court always depends on the work of the judges, and therefore there are no real reforms if the judges themselves are not “reformed”. He also insisted that the opposition should take part in the election of judges. I advise you, he said, to involve the media and the civil sector to put pressure on the system.

Denis Presova, an assistant at the Faculty of Law at UKIM, said that the judges have for a long time refuse to leave their comfort zone and  some of them consider that the court does not need reform. However, the task of the experts is to provide a genuine “constituation” of the judiciary, because according to him there is a “crisis of constitutionalism”. “Our Constitutional Court should be at the head of Europeanization, which, unfortunately, is not the case,” he said.

Aleksandra Deanoska, a professor at the Faculty of Law at UKIM, concluded that in the reforms “we have to start from scratch”, because if we are honest and admit that it is difficult to escape the mentality that “everyone is waiting for his five minutes to come to power” .

At the end of the session, 9 recommendations were adopted.