The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
1. The Committee considered the initial report of the former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia (CCPR/C/74/Add.4) at its 1685th, 1686th and 1687th meetings,
held on 22 and 23 July 1998 (CCPR/C/SR.1685, 1686 and 1687) and adopted
the following concluding observations at its 1696th meeting (CCPR/C/SR.1696),
held on 29 July 1998.
2. The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its comprehensive
initial report, prepared largely in accordance with the Committee's guidelines.
At the same time, it notes that the information provided in the report deals
primarily with legal and institutional issues and does not contain sufficient
data on the practical application of the Covenant.
and difficulties impeding the application of the Covenant
3. The Committee takes note of the statement of the delegation that the
principal difficulty in ensuring effective implementation of the Covenant
lies in the complex and difficult process of transition from a political
and social environment shaped for decades by the concept of collective rights
to a respect for the rights of individuals. It also notes that the same
tradition inhibits individuals from impugning State actions through the
courts and other agencies established for the purpose, and through the Optional
Protocol. Continuing ethnic tensions, particularly concerning the Albanian
minority, also remain a matter of major concern.
4. The Committee notes with satisfaction that the Government of the former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is attempting to ensure the protection accorded
under the Covenant to its population in a period of fundamental change of
political and economic systems and a redefinition of State institutions.
It observes that the level of that protection has been further reinforced
by the ratification of the two Optional Protocols to the Covenant.
5. The Committee welcomes the fact that, by virtue of article 118 of the
Constitution, the Covenant is a part of the internal legal order which cannot
be changed by domestic legislation, and that its provisions may be directly
invoked before the courts.
6. The Committee welcomes the commitment made by the State party to proceed
with the reform of the judicial system and of the system of penitentiary
7. The Committee considers the passage of the Law on the Ombudsman in February
1997 and the subsequent appointment by the Parliament of the Ombudsman as
an important element in the building of an effective system of institutional
protection of Covenant rights.
8. The Committee commends the State party for the enactment of legislation
designed to comply with the anti-discrimination provisions of the Covenant
(arts. 2, 20, 26 and 27), including the Act on Public Information, the Act
on Telecommunications and the Law on Broadcasting, which prohibit the use
of mass media to incite national, racial or religious hatred or intolerance;
the Act on Political Parties, which prohibits the establishment of parties
whose aim is the incitement to national, racial or religious hatred and
intolerance; the Act on Social Organizations and Citizens' Associations,
which also prohibits activities that violate human rights or encourage national,
racial or religious hatred or intolerance; and the Assembly Declaration
of 1997 on the promotion of inter-ethnic relations.
9. The Committee also commends the State party for its cooperation with
non-governmental organizations and foundations, including the Macedonia
Center for International Cooperation, the Open Society Institute, and women's
organizations. It further welcomes the dissemination given to the Covenant
and the Optional Protocol in the Macedonian language and in the languages
of the ethnic minorities.
subjects of concern and the Committee's recommendations
10. The Committee expresses serious concern at ethnic violence involving
the police in Gostivar on 7 July 1997, in the course of which three persons
lost their lives and hundreds were wounded. It is also concerned at indications
that all fair-trial guarantees were not met in dealing with local officials.
The Committee recommends that these events be thoroughly investigated by
an independent body, that those found responsible be subjected to appropriate
penal or disciplinary sanctions, and that all necessary measures be taken
to prevent their recurrence anywhere within the country.
11. The Committee is concerned by reported cases of abuse of police authority,
including unlawful arrest and detention, excessive use of force - especially
against members of minority groups - and physical ill-treatment of detainees.
The Committee recommends that the persons responsible be subjected to appropriate
disciplinary or penal sanctions and, further, that the Government strengthen
training programmes on human rights for the police and establish permanent
mechanisms for ongoing instruction with the participation of international
agencies and experts in the field.
12. The Committee also notes with concern the continued application of restrictive
legislation inherited from the previous regime in various fields, including
concerning the importation of foreign printed materials. The existence and
application in practice of such laws may violate the Covenant's provisions
and, in more general terms, make the degree of its incorporation into the
domestic legal system uncertain. The Committee recommends that the State
party ensure that persons under its jurisdiction enjoy the right to seek
and impart information, as provided for in article 19 of the Covenant, and
repeal any legislation which runs counter to those rights.
13. The Committee considers that the principle of equality between men and
women is far from being implemented in practice, particularly in the spheres
of employment and education, in spite of progress in some areas such as
the judiciary. It takes note of the activities of the Department for the
Promotion of Gender Equality and other governmental initiatives to overcome
deeply rooted stereotypes and traditions, and recommends that further measures
to ensure genuine equality be undertaken without delay.
14. While noting that marital rape has been considered a crime since 1996,
the Committee regrets that domestic violence against women is reported to
be widespread. It recommends that concerted action be undertaken by all
public authorities to reduce the incidence of domestic violence and to strengthen
the remedies which are open to women who are subjected to it.
15. The Committee is concerned at the continuation of the practice of forcing
citizens to attend so-called "informative talks" in spite of a decision
of the Constitutional Court and the enactment of the new Law on Criminal
Procedures, both of which provide that police may not compel such attendance
without a court order. Such practices and the failure to give full effect
to the new Law are incompatible with provisions of article 9 of the Covenant.
16. The Committee notes the increase since 1990 in minority participation
in political, administrative, cultural and other institutions, but expresses
its concern at the fact that it is still well below a level commensurate
with their proportion of the population. The Committee encourages the State
party to strengthen its programmes to increase the representation of the
and other ethnic minorities in public life, including the civil service,
army and police. The Roma population are a matter of particular concern.
The Committee further recommends that the State party continue to encourage
minority participation in the design, organization and functioning of the
educational system, in particular at the secondary and higher educational
levels, and provide for the training of teachers of minority languages in
17. The Committee recommends that the State party disseminate widely the
text of its initial report, as well as the present concluding observations.
It further requests that its second periodic report, due in June 2000, include
material which addresses itself to those observations.