The European Centre for Roma Rights from Budapest last week (February 26, 2014) challenged the constitutionality of the article of the Law on traveling documents of the Republic of Macedonia based on their research which confirmed that Macedonia does not respect the basic human right – the right to a freedom of movement.
An Article of the Law on traveling documents of the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia was in front of the Constitutional Court last week. The European Centre for Roma Rights (ECRR) from Budapest submitted an initiative that indicates that the country violates the fundamental right of movement of Roma in Macedonia.
Based on the field research, ECRR states that the Macedonian border authorities mostly confiscate the passports of the Roma citizens who want to travel outside of Macedonia, under the suspicion that they will seek asylum in other countries. According to the research of ECRR, from 2011 until 2013, 74 cases were documented where Roma individuals weren’t allowed to leave the state. Passports were confiscated in 24 cases by the Macedonian border officials. ECRR was additionally informed about 50 new cases. In 90% of the documented cases, only the Roma were asked to provide a justification for their travel (in cases when Roma and non-Roma were traveling together). 60% of the Roma returned from the border were told by the border officials that they were ordered to return them. 30% of the Roma were told that they cannot cross the border because of their ethnicity (only because they are Roma).
The Centre points out that the Macedonian border officials have a discretionary power to do this even though those competences and the Law are in conflict with all international conventions for human rights.
ERRC disputes the Article 37, paragraph 1, item 6 of the Law on traveling documents which provides grounds for rejecting a request for issuing a passport, and grounds for revocation of passports, which are not in accordance with Article 27, paragraph 2 of the Constitution of Macedonia, which guarantees the right of every citizen to leave the country, except in cases listed by name, i.e. when it is necessary for the protection of the security of the Republic, instituting criminal procedures or protection of people’s health (Article 27, paragraph 3 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia).