Taken from www.akademik.mk
FIRST VERDICT CONFIRMING DISCRIMINATION IN THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA: Border services concluded abuse of the visa regime solely on the basis of nationality
Thursday, May 29, 2014 – The Primary Court Skopje 2 Skopje found a violation of the right to equality in the practice of the border services to restrict the right of certain categories of people to leave the territory of the Republic of Macedonia under unjustified suspicion that they are bogus asylum seekers.
Primary Court Skopje 2 Skopje, based on the procedure supported by the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association (MYLA), brought the first verdict establishing discrimination based on the Law on Prevention and Protection from Discrimination.
“With this verdict the Court determined discrimination and violation of the right to equality. According to the court, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) as a defendant in that it prevented the plaintiff, a person of Roma nationality, to leave the territory of the Republic of Macedonia acting contrary to Article 8 of the Law on border control and restricted his right to a freedom of movement as well as the rights to equality, rights guaranteed under Article 9 and Article 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia”, explain the MYLA.
According to the Association this verdict is very important for the rule of law in Macedonia for two reasons.
“The first is that this is the first court decision that determines discrimination on the basis of the Law on Prevention and Protection from Discrimination, and the second reason is that court proceedings have determined more pervasive unfair practice of border officials in restricting the freedom of movement of an entire group of Macedonian citizens due to the unjustified assumption that they will misuse the visa regime by seeking asylum in some of the EU member states,” said the Association.
As stated by MYLA, in June 2013, the plaintiff travelled with his family to a wedding of a close relative in Italy, at the border crossing Tabanovce he was prevented by border officials to leave the territory of the Republic of Macedonia without any special explanation. He possessed a translated and notarized confirmation from the municipality where the wedding was scheduled and possessed enough money for a few days stay in the EU country (although it is not required to have any certificates when leaving the territory). The plaintiff, with a stamp in the passport crossed by two oblique lines, was forbidden to leave the territory of Macedonia.
According to the defendant – the Macedonian Ministry of Interior, the police officer who did the act suspected that the plaintiff and his family are people who are intending to seek asylum in some of the EU Member States.
“According to the court’s rationale, if the Interior Ministry official requested to inspect the confirmation from the municipality where the plaintiff went, as well as the funds that he owned, and only if he listened carefully what the plaintiff is telling him, such a thing would not have occurred. The official only found important that the plaintiff is a member of the Roma community and therefore he already belonged to the group of citizens who are possible asylum seekers,” said the Association.
The Court also determined that “there is no doubt that the state has a right when there is danger in disrupting the visa regime to take actions and measures that will lead to it preventing its citizens from crossing the state border in order to abuse the visa-free regime but it must be done in a way that will not harm the equality of citizens.”
“In this particular case, the border services did the opposite by based solely on the nationality of the plaintiff concluded that the same would abuse the visa regime thus committing a serious violation of the right to equality and the right to a freedom of movement,” underlined MYLA.
The plaintiff is represented by the lawyer Bojan Gjurovski, member of the team of lawyers at the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association. According to Gjurovski, this verdict means a step forward in the fight for protection of human rights and freedoms.
“I must point out that it is my great pleasure that, as a member of the team of lawyers MYLA, I have a chance to give my own personal and professional contribution to the specific case, i.e. for determining a violation of the right to equality and equal rights. I particularly welcome the expertise, professionalism and determination of the judge who presided over the matter in the first instance. Of course, this judgment means a step forward in the fight for protection of human rights and freedoms. MYLA put a lot of effort and energy into the process for protection against discrimination and the verdict is the fruit of that labour. The actual verdict will certainly contribute to the strengthening of the human rights and freedoms, particularly between the citizens and institutions, legal entities and individuals,” he said for AKADEMIK.
Aleksandra Cvetanovska, project an assistant at “MYLA”, specified that the representation of the case is within the project “Fight against discrimination through strategic advocacy, strengthening the role of civil society organizations.”
“The main objective of the project is to contribute to building an effective national system for protection from discrimination and unequal treatment of citizens. In this context, the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association, through its team of expert lawyers, provides quality legal assistance to victims of discrimination. We believe that this court’s verdict will establish a positive practice which would substantially contribute to society based on the rule of law and society in which all citizens would be equal to a legal society without discrimination,” concludes Cvetanovska.
The verdict also affirmed a monetary compensation for the violation of personal rights, i.e. for the sustained emotional pain and violation of honour, reputation and dignity.