Strasbourg, 1 February 2005
CCJE (2005) 8
Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)
Questionnaire on theme “Justice and society”: Reply submitted by the delegation of “the former yugoslav republic of Macedonia”
A. THE EDUCATIONAL ROLE OF COURTS IN DEMOCRACY
1. The Court Rules of Procedure, published only in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia, governs the manner of communication of the court with parties in the procedures and with other citizens. They are informed at court information desks, by announcements posted on bulletin boards, through filing petition request applications and meetings with clients and third parties for records review, issuing certificates and filing information requests. Reception hours are announced on the court bulletin board. Procedure participants and third parties are received by the court president and secretary. The court registrar’s office issues reports based on data collected from registries and records, the stage of procedures. Other kinds of reports are issued only to people authorised to review records. Other information is also given by phone and in writing. It is not allowed to give any explanations regarding the regularity of court proceedings, decisions and statements about the possible outcome of the process. The court president or a judge appointed by him, respond to citizen's petitions and proposals immediately or no later than 30 days. Court clerks handling petitions must observe the principle of preserving an official secret, under the Law on Courts of the Republic of Macedonia.
- Public access to court files is granted to parties and their lawyers. All others shall account for their interest before the judge in charge of the case. Third parties are not allowed to review criminal cases. They are only allowed to review the judgment and only with reasonable justification, for example in a case of scientific research.
- The court president or an authorised judge shall brief the representatives of the media regarding court operation or regarding a specific case, while taking care not to hurt one’s reputation, honour and dignity, and not to harm the independence and self-sufficiency of the court.
- A Fair Trial NGO Coalition, consisting of 20 NGOs from throughout the country, conducted observation of criminal and civil trials in first instance courts in 2003, regarding the enforcement of international fair trial standards, through monitoring trials and reviewing court files. Observers were lawyers and attorneys. The goal was to increase the confidence in the judiciary, identify problems in the judiciary and familiarise the public and the judiciary with the international fair trial standards. A final report in Macedonian, Albanian and English was published on their webpage and is available to the public. In the implementation of its activities, the Coalition cooperates with the Law Faculty in Skopje, the Law Faculty within the Southeast European University in Tetovo through a training programme for students attending international fair trial standard courses and through organizing students to visit trials.
- The project organized by the NGO Transparency International-Macedonia -monitoring criminal procedures of corruption related criminal cases in the RM, at the Ministry of interior, Public Prosecution Office and the courts with its final report published on their web site.Their initial and final results were made public on their press conferences.The Ministry of interior and the competent courts provided complete access to the documents requested
- Various NGOs conduct public polls, assessing the degree of success of the operation of the judiciary. ABA CEELI of USAID (American Bar Association Central and Eastern Europe Legal Initiative) assesses the reforms of the judiciary, the different ways of providing legal aid to citizens. The Helsinki Human Rights Committee observes the operation of courts through a network of legal expert observers who oversee various trials and intervene in human rights cases and publish reports on it.
- The main hearings in criminal and civil procedures are also made transparent to the public, where trials are open to the general public and the press, unless a trial is expressly closed to the public in line with court procedure laws included in the Appendix III.
- Currently, there is an ongoing process of comprehensive court computerization that will allow for an enhanced access to information and for the implementation of the publicity principle; with the amendments in procedural laws, the courts are obliged to provide for daily electronic or other kind of access on the premises to scheduled hearings, as well as access to updates in procedure development for all participants in the procedure. However, this has not been implemented yet.
2. The Ministry of Justice, the courts of the Republic of Macedonia, or the State Judicial Council (SJC) do not have web sites. There is no network in place linking all these bodies which have been established in order to inform the public about the operation of the judiciary. The Macedonian Judges Association has its own website, but it does not have an information service for the citizens, while the Macedonian Bar Association does have a webpage but it has not published any information manuals for citizens.
-The Office of the Ombudsman of the Republic of Macedonia has issued a number of brochures distributed through the daily newspapers in Macedonian, Albanian and Serbian in order to inform the citizens. These include information on protection of their rights regarding Ombudsman's legal authority, acting upon citizens' complaints, to take respective measures to prevent any irresponsible acts of court services, as well as unjustified delay of court procedures.
- There is neither a detailed legislation nor any strategy for the manner of public information, nor are there any guidebooks and manuals that the public might use to get information on the way the judiciary operates. The Ministry of Justice has not taken any substantial measures towards keeping the public informed in this sense.
- The courts have not issued any written guidebooks and handbooks which would keep the citizens informed about initiating certain procedures, e.g. documents required etc. There is no organized information service, however, in view of the economic situation of the majority of the population and its inability to access the internet, before internet pages are introduced, it is necessary to use local communities, basic courts and daily newspapers to distribute printed guidebooks in all of the languages in use, in order to inform the general population, to arrange forums and media campaigns for educating the general public about the functioning of the judiciary and about the rights they can realize in the court procedures, and especially about their right to demand information regarding operation of the state bodies.
- The monthly and the annual reports on the court performance and the performance of each individual judge circulate only within the court and the bodies in charge of evaluating the work of courts and judges. The reports are not published for the public.The Supreme court of Macedonia gives information about its work at annual press conference for media when it presents the results from its operation and the problems with which the Supreme court and the entire judiciary are faced. There is no press conference held for media for presentation the annual reports for each court and judge by the other courts or organs authorised to evaluate the work of the judges and the courts.
The websites of the Ministry of Justice, the State Judicial Council, the Supreme Court, the Public Prosecutors and the Penitentiaries are currently being finalized, linking all these institutions both horizontally and vertically. These websites will provide information in the languages used in Macedonia regarding the operation of the justice system, the organizational structure and the jurisdiction of judicial bodies and courts, the basics of court procedures, the international legal assistance and cooperation, national and international legislation effective in the Republic of Macedonia, which will all be updated; furthermore, the court practice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Macedonia, as well as the effective judgements of other courts without disclosing names, the reports of the operation of all courts in the Republic of Macedonia, the way citizens can submit a complaint to the State Judicial Council and to the Ministry of justice, shall be published, including the option of submitting it via e mail.
None of the website programmes of these bodies foresees the introduction of handbooks for citizens in the languages in use, explaining the steps in initiating specific procedures, the time required, costs involved, documents required etc. However, the possibility of future updates in that sense is not excluded.
- The Law on Free Access to Information is already in parliamentary procedure, which shall govern in detail the way of obtaining public information available to the state bodies and information holders (in the Appendix III).
The inevitable conclusion is that printed and electronic media are underutilized in informing the public on various projects aimed at educating the public about the judicial system and its functioning.
3. There are no programmes for regular organized visits of parents, teachers, professors, regular meetings of judges and the press, nor regular meetings or press conferences of the court president with the journalists. Judges in general,except for the presidents of the courts tend to avoid interviews in the media on issues from the field of their work and enforcement of justice, except when they are involved in legislation drafting projects or education.
- Regarding the police procedure, there are local projects that inform the public about their rights when they are called or brought-in to a police station, as foreseen by the Law on Criminal Procedure. The Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Macedonia, in cooperation with international donors, posted flyers in 7 languages in front of all police stations. There is a local community policing project for organizing regular meetings between police and citizens.
-A guidebook has been issued explaining how to access the European Court of Human Rights for education of the public on the European Convention on Human Rights as well as the basics of judicial procedures. It was distributed through the daily press.
- Judges are involved in educational programmes and trainings organized by the Macedonian Judges Association, where representatives of interested NGOs also participate. Financed by international organizations, the judges teach postgraduate classes at the Law Faculty in Skopje and in high schools about certain topics related to the way the judicial system works and the judicial practice. They regularly participate in police personnel education projects and trainings for lawyers, prosecutors and judges on specific topics which influence judicial practice. Education also takes place by contacts with students who during regular studies visit trials in all procedures and criminal investigations, as well as all court departments. According to existing regulations, the judge can lecture at the university and take part in scientific projects of the University, without the right to be compensated, which is subject to approval by the court he has been selected in, provided it does not have an adverse effect on his function. In practice, there has never been a case when a judge was prevented from giving lectures.
-Representatives of interested NGOs and representatives of international organization in the Republic of Macedonia attend criminal and civil trials that provoke increased public interest, and have meetings with judges and court president on various topics of interest.
4. The public is informed about court decisions after they are published in printed and electronic media, mainly by journalists that have followed the trial in question, as well as upon oral request of journalists after an approval of the judge making the judgement. They can inspect the judgement, and after the indictment is made, also in the indictment document and case evidence. There is no organized way of informing the media, such as press conferences for specific trials and the decisions made; this is done, however, by contacting the investigating judge or the trial judge and upon their oral approval, as well as by contacting the court president or a judge authorised by him .
- There are no web pages of a single judicial body where court decisions of domestic courts are posted; In the interest of uniformity of jurisprudence,the Supreme court is publishing Collections of court judgements with sentences and important parts from justifications of some significant court decisions.They are published and available in any specialized and ordinary bookshop,but the citizens are not widely and publicly informed about it.
5. There are educational programmes and subjects at the Skopje secondary law school, covering the elements of the judicial system and judicial procedures.
-At the Skopje Law Faculty, students of the justice department study as obligatory subjects judicial procedures, legal, but not court ethics, there is an obligatory programme in applied law for 4th year students, which combines a seminar, a workshop and an internship. Students carry out a case study and simulation, review of evidence, preparation for criminal and civil trials, interview of clients, draft acts and attend court hearings; they also visit prisons and meet inmates.
The Skopje Law Faculty participates in a clinic programme that encompasses a free representation in civil cases for the ethnic Roma through an attorney who has reception hours at the Faculty, professors who educate citizens about their rights by organizing visits to local communities and schools .
-There are no employees in courts trained to contact educational institutions - they are contacted through the court secretary.
B. THE RELATIONS OF THE COURTS WITH THOSE
INVOLVED IN COURT PROCEEDINGS
6. Different attitudes regarding the operation of the judiciary and various court processes, and the work of judges and courts, as well as conduct in certain cases, objective and subjective weaknesses, are evaluated by the public through various surveys, reports of the Helsinki Committee of Human Rights, other international organizations, as well as through complaints of participants in the procedure on judges conduct during specific cases, which are sent to the Court President, the Ministry of Justice and the State Judicial Council.
7. There have been no training courses on the lawyers’, judges’ and court staff’s attitude in the sense of equal treatment of all clients and strengthening of confidence in the judges , apart from the few seminars on the Code Of Ethics of judges. The project for the curriculum of the Educational Centre for judges is completed, where judges’ ethics will be studied.
- The Macedonian Bar Association code of ethics contains provisions that ensure respect of the court; its violation invokes disciplinary responsibility. However no disciplinary measure has been issued against an attorney for violation of court reputation or giving public statements prejudging court decisions that obstruct justice.
C. THE RELATIONS OF THE COURTS WITH THE PUBLIC
i. DIRECT RELATIONS OF THE COURTS WITH THE PUBLIC
8. Court presidents provide conditions for the publicity of trials; larger courtrooms are used for trials which provoke greater media interest.
Under Article 272 of the Law on Criminal Procedure, in case the premises of the court building are unsuitable for the main hearing due to large audience and a large number of journalists, the court president may decide to shift the trial to another building. An appropriate provision can also be found in the Law on Litigation Procedure.
Under Article 303 of the Law on Criminal Procedure, in a courtroom where the main hearing is held, clients sit facing the court chamber ; the defendant and his attorney sit on his left, and the Public Prosecutor or an Authorized Prosecutor, the injured party and his proxy sit on his right, so the parties sit at the same level. Defendants brought from prison or remand prison is without handcuffs during the hearing.
9. The courts do not have staff employed to receive parties and witnesses offering them video or oral presentations; they are directed to the appointed trials by the court police. There are no planned programmes for introduction of video presentation for parties and witnesses in courts or media that would convey courtroom atmosphere.
10. The Macedonian Bar Association founded six legal clinics throughout Macedonia, where attorneys provide free legal advice for welfare beneficiaries, the handicapped, domestic violence victims, single parents, victims of human trafficking and refugees. A helpline was opened for direct assistance on voluntary basis to domestic violence victims, providing legal advice to the most needy regarding basic rights, granting citizenship, assistance in human rights related cases, issuing personal identification documents in cooperation with local NGOs. However, there is no organized way of informing the public that these services exist.
The Macedonian Bar Association does not play a major role in the implementation of public interest programmes, raising public awareness and informing citizens of their legal rights and obligations.
- Flyers for the rights of domestic violence victims and victims of criminal acts related to human trafficking were distributed in daily newspapers.
- Legal advice is also offered by Legal Advice Services within the Municipalities.
11. Courts do not have specially employed and trained PR spokespersons; this function is executed by the court president, or the judge or court advisor authorised by him.
- It is necessary to foresee more precise provisions in the Court Rules of Procedure, so that the president, judges and court staff can ensure conditions for transparency of court’s operation, media access to current information and court procedures. The courts should employ a PR-trained spokesperson. In more complex cases of public interest regular press conferences should be held in order to inform the public objectively and precisely. Detailed regulations are needed governing media coverage of trials, audio and video recordings and their distribution, in order to prevent possible manipulation.
ii. INDIRECT RELATIONS OF THE COURTS WITH THE PUBLIC
JUSTICE AND THE MEDIA
12. Regarding the restrictions to the right to inform in the judiciary, they are presented in the Appendixes, the regulations in procedural laws for investigation and publicity of main hearing-criminal,civil and administrative.
- There are no provisions in the Law on Criminal Procedure governing secrecy of investigation. Parties present during the execution of different investigation acts are being informed pursuant to Article 171 from the Law on Criminal Procedure (in AppendixIII).
- There are no explicit legal provisions that prevent journalists from publishing names or photos of persons involved in the case except for juveniles and victims undergoing a witness protection programme under Articles 446 and 270 of the Law on Criminal Procedure.During the investigation the journalists usually avoid disclosing the identity of the suspects and witnesses, by publishing their initials only. Unfortunately, in practice, there have been cases where media has published information for the identity and photos of suspects against whom criminal charges have been taken and who are under arrest, as well as of suspects under investigation, of the interviewed, as well as of witnesses who are yet to be interviewed, even accompanied by names and photos of victims of the crime, labelled as information obtained from informal court and police sources. So far no legal action has been taken against journalists or employees of those institutions, for publishing such information.
- Acording to the final report of the aforementioned project Monitoring the criminal procedures related to corruption cases, for example, in Skopje which is the Capitol of Macedonia, the proposals for instituting criminal charges have been submitted with the full name and surname in 38,75 % cases,while full name and surname of the imprisoned is published in 13,76% cases.In Bitola, 21,59% of the proposals were published with initials.The public will know that proposals have been initiated, but not that they are rejected.Instituting criminal chareges against a certain person and publishing of that fact in the media is a heavy violation of the principle of innocence
- Those journalists that write about the judicial or criminal chronicles have a professional and humane obligation to follow the case to its end, and at the moment when the process is finalised or the person is declared innocent by the court, it should be published in the same media.
- During investigation, journalists are given information for the particular case by the court president or the investigation judge in charge, but only on the course of procedure, on the actions taken, and without revealing the identity of the interviewed witnesses. Journalists are not allowed to attend certain investigation acts, or to inspect investigation records and, as a rule of thumb, they obtain these rights only after the indictment is made.
- Trials in civil and criminal procedure are public. Unless the public has been excluded, in practice, statements given by the defendants and trial witnesses are published in the media, with or without revealing their identity, but a verbatim report of their statements violates legal provisions and is not consistent with the purpose of the hearing of evidence with removal of witnesses who have not been interviewed, since the defendant or witness that needs to be interviewed can hear or read the statement of the previously interviewed person in the media.No sanctions or other measures have been undertaken towards the journalists acting so.
- The right of protection of information sources in the media is guaranteed by the Constitution. Nobody, not even the court can ask journalists to reveal their source, even in a procedure against journalists for crimes committed against honour and reputation through the media.
- Source protection is also proposed in process provisions in Article 203 a Paragraph 1 of the Law on Criminal procedure which foresees that it is forbidden to confiscate records of facts written by journalists or their editors in the media from the source and information acquired while doing their work and which are used in the process of news editing in the media, which are in their possession or in the editorial office they work for. An exception to this is when items have to be confiscated under the Criminal Code and in criminal acts committed against children and juveniles (the recommendation of the Ministerial Committee R (2000)7, for the right not to reveal sources, in case such evidence appears in court they should not be used until it is justified to do so because of public interest for revealing them and other conditions specified in Article 10 Paragraph 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
13. It is necessary to fully implement the Convention on Protection of Individuals, (ETS No. 108), and the Recommendations of the Ministerial Committee (2002)2 and (2003)13.
- In context of the previous issue, Recommendation (2003)13 should be implemented, in regards to information related to suspects, defendants or sentenced persons and other participants in the criminal procedure. Their right to privacy determined by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights should be respected, with special focus on juveniles, vulnerable groups, witness victims, families of defendants; attention should be paid to the adverse effect of revealing information that enables identification of aforementioned persons.
- To implement Recommendation (2003) 13 - identity of witnesses should not be revealed to the media by the court bodies, or by the media, unless the witness’ explicit consent, if the identification of the witness is of public interest or if the statement has already been publicly revealed, never to reveal the identity of witnesses under the witness protection programme, in criminal procedures against organized crime or domestic violence-related crime.
- The provisions of Recommendation (2002) 2 are generally implemented in the draft law on Access to Public Information (in the Appendix III).
14. Journalists have free access to trials without any discrimination, they do not need a special permit. In courts journalists do not have the technical possibility of observing trials through internal television; courtrooms with sufficient number of seats for journalists and citizens are provided for trials that cause big media interest.
- Under Article 123 of the Law on Criminal Procedure, the court in its premises is obliged to provide daily access to the record of appointed hearings electronically or otherwise to all participants in the procedure.
- There are no internal court nor media rules for communication with journalists, handbooks and rules how to draw up press reports apart from the Journalist Code of Ethics (in the Appendixes), there is a court of honour at the Macedonian Journalists Association which pronounces moral condemnations through public announcements in media in cases when the Code of Ethics has been violated, and they have been pronounced to journalists several times in the past.
There is a Law on Public Information, inherited from Former Yugoslavia (1990 Official Gazette of SFRY) where certain provisions are foreseen governing the responsibility of the editor-in-chief to publish a reply and rectify information which violates rights of interest, that the responsibility for the veracity of published information lies with its author. If the medium publishes false information which damages the reputation or the interest of the individual information relates to, or which damages the honour and integrity of the individual, if statements about his life are false, the person concerned has a right to file a complaint for a compensation to the competent court against the founder and publisher of the medium.
Penal provisions are foreseen for misdemeanour responsibility, and the person who publishes false information in the media shall be fined or imprisoned up to 60 days, and the editor-in-chief failing to publish a reply or rectify published information shall be fined or imprisoned up to 30 days for misdemeanour. Since the independence of Republic of Macedonia, there have been several attempts to pass new, democratic law, since several provisions of the aforementioned Law cause problems related to democracy, especially since the journalist or the editor may be imprisoned for misdemeanor offence. For this reason the Law is not implemented at all, which stems from court practice, thus not a single procedure has been initiated for penalizing a journalist for an offence such as the aforementioned injuries. The Law lacks a provision that protects the source of information. According to Macedonian journalism experts, passing any kind of Law on Public Information, while the Constitution guarantees freedom of information, publication of correction and of denial and protection of the source of information, would only be a restriction of freedom of information. They advocate that the criminal responsibility for criminal acts against the honour and reputation committed through the media foreseen in the Criminal code is sufficient, while implementing the Conclusions of the regional conference in Strasbourg-17-18.10.2002, which contain recommendations for avoiding in future the possibility of imprisonment for the aforementioned criminal acts commited through media, and keeping the civil responsibility for compensation of damages, as well as the moral sentence through public announcements in media by the Macedonian Journalists Association Court of Morality, according to self-regulation rules, i.e. the Code of Ethics, which in their view is the most severe condemnation.
-A media court handbook is being prepared in cooperation between the Macedonian Journalists Association, the Macedonian Judges Association, judges and journalists, which will contain information regarding domestic and international legal sources, freedom of information and its restraints, rules governing media reporting on court procedures, information on regulations governing the organization and authority of courts and judges, basics of court procedures, most important professional terminology, and court practice that is related to journalists in court procedures
15. Under Article 286 Paragraph 3 of the Law on Criminal Procedure, video recording is prohibited in the courtroom. Only by exception, the president of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Macedonia may approve such recording of a specific main hearing. If the filming is approved, the council at the main hearing may justifiably decide to exclude certain segments of the hearing from the recording.
- Filming outside the courtroom but within the court building is not regulated.
- No regulations govern import of audio-recording devices inside the courtrooms. Under Article 300 of the Law on Criminal Procedure, tape recording of the trial is approved by the president of the council, but that is for client and attorney needs only and the recordings shall not be distributed in public.
- Journalists who take notes at the trial have equal treatment as the public, but it is another issue if they record the main hearing procedure, because then the provisions of Article 286 Paragraph 3 of the Law on Criminal Procedure shall be effective.
16. Freedom of thought and public expression of thought is an absolute right established by the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia. However it does not foresee a situation when it can be restrained, on one hand, and on the other hand, when freedom and rights are restricted, the restriction of this freedom is prohibited (Article 54 of the Macedonian Constitution, in the Appendix III). There is a dual court protection of these freedoms, in front of regular courts and in front of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Macedonia. The procedure before the Constitutional Court is governed by the court rules of procedure, but there is only a marginal representation of this authority during the operation of the Constitutional Court.
- There is no domestic legislation and practice that makes the court supervise media activities because of protection of the rule of law principle, except in court procedures against journalists for criminal acts against honour and reputation, as well as for compensations of damage in a civil trial; there have been no procedures so far taken by court at the request to stop injury of personal rights under Article 144 of the Law on Obligations.
17. There is no difference in threshold of responsibility in court procedures for criminal acts against honour and reputation, in the sense of the amount of fines, as well as the amount of damages in civil trials as damage compensation against journalists, when politicians are the injured parties, in comparison to other citizens
- With the amendments to the Criminal Code, politicians and other public officials are on an equal plane with other citizens in regards to criminal prosecution, so whenever they become injured parties in criminal acts against the honour and reputation committed through the media, the prosecution is no longer carried out ex officio, but upon a private charge, unless they are committed to an electoral candidate or immediately before the voting (Article 184 of the Criminal Code in Appendix III).
- Politicians and other public figures are not protected with special legal measures in regards to prosecution and verdict; there are no special criteria established for awarding damages or protective measures for publishing information and photographs of their private lives. Although in practice there are no cases of civil procedures for awarding material and non-material damages upon a charge by these persons, it is the judges' opinion that politicians, by accepting to perform a public duty, have voluntarily exposed themselves to an increased risk of damages from defamation against them in the media. The reason behind this is that citizens and the public have a right to know about the conduct and character of these people who are in charge of executing significant public functions. Therefore, the restriction of freedom of expression that affects them is less obliging than in other citizens since the former have stronger means of responding to unfounded criticism than regular citizens, so they do not need to be protected by more severe punishments and higher damages when they are injured parties.
- Even though according to the practice of the Skopje Basic Courts, being the largest courts in the Republic of Macedonia, in which jurisdiction editorial offices of virtually all printed and electronic media are located, there have not been cases of civil damages compensation suits for breach of honour and reputation against journalists. Judges believe that in case the compensation is given the same evidence should be used as in other compensation procedures, namely insurance companies have written compensation criteria, and courts on average pronounce 3 to 5 times bigger compensation.
18. The conduct of journalists is regulated by the Journalists Code of Ethics issued by the Macedonian Journalists Association (in the Appendix III)
- In the event of publishing information, journalists are restrained by boundaries of constitutional rights and freedoms of other citizens. There is no other applied responsibility for journalists when they publish a false information, except for the criminal (Articles 172-185 of the Criminal Code) and the civil one. With the latest changes of the Law on Criminal Procedure, it is now court’s obligation also in the criminal procedure to award material and non-material damages (in the Appendix III).
- There is a difference whether the information published contains facts or opinion. Namely facts are proven by available evidence, while opinions are not subject of validation. Before the April 2004 amendments in the Criminal Code, it was foreseen that in the criminal procedure for the criminal act of defamation, in case the defendant proves the validity of his claim or proves to have had a valid reason for believing in the validity of what he stated, he shall not be penalized for defamation, but he may be punishable for the criminal act of insult or the criminal act of slight with reproach about a crime.
- When the information comes from an official source - the judge, the prosecution or the police, the journalist is excused of checking the information, if he gives a verbatim account of the information, and is relieved from responsibility if the official source gives incorrect information
- Bodies involved in pre-criminal procedure - the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecutor's Office are obliged to act with caution when giving information to the media not to violate the principle of presumption of innocence, the success of the criminal prosecution, and at the same time to provide the public with timely and accurate information. The same bodies are responsible to avoid harming the honour and reputation of persons whom the information refers to (Article 144 Paragraph 5 of the Law on Criminal Procedure, in the Appendix III). This is why in that stage, since the matters at hand are very sensitive and variable categories, such as the of grounds of doubt, the public attorney and police must handle the reported criminal-legal event professionally, legally and ethically, i.e. he shall only give brief reports for criminal acts which provoke considerable media interest without revealing personal information for the citizen who at that moment is only a possible perpetrator.
- There are no preventive legal measures that would prohibit the publishing of news and photos related to arrest of citizens unless by submitting a request to the court for stopping the injury of personal rights, which has never been used, from Article 144 of the Law on Obligation as a kind of interim measure (see the Appendix III).
-Police authorities hold press conferences through their spokesperson or the Minister in person. There are no special internal rules for data that can be published in regards to filed criminal charges. Published information is selected according to the Rulebook on confidentiality of data in possession of the Ministry of Interior. The police publishes only initials of persons against whom criminal charge has been filed and of witnesses and victims. But, in some cases when public figures, politicians, as well as people for whom arrest warrants were issued are concerned, the suspect's full names and last names are published, along with pictures and recordings of their arrest. So far the people concerned have not taken legal actions for violation of personal rights.
- In the practice of Skopje Basic Courts, who are the largest courts in the Republic of Macedonia, and where editorial offices of virtually all printed and electronic media are located, there have not been cases of civil damages compensation suits against journalists for publishing incorrect information.
19. The right to reply and rectify previously published information in the media is guaranteed by the Constitution. There are no legal regulations governing criminal responsibility when a denial is not published, except in the aforementioned inherited Law on Public Information; the provisions of this law are only formally effective, but the option for civil responsibility for damage compensation is not excluded. As a rule of thumb, denial is considered a alleviation circumstance and when the damages are awarded, the editor-in-chief of said medium is responsible for publishing the denial.
- For criminal acts committed through the media there are special provisions for criminal responsibility in the Criminal Code (26-28 of the Criminal Code, see Appendix III)
There is no legal remedy for the defendant and other participants in the procedure against the journalist for published information about identity or if the information has had an impact on the fairness of the trial, except for constitutional complaint for protection of the presumption of innocence, protection from injury of personal integrity, as well as criminal responsibility for criminal acts against honour and reputation (Article 172-184 of the Criminal Code and possibly 149 of the Criminal Code) as well as civil responsibility for compensation of material and non-material damage in case of injury of honour and spreading allegations, as well as demanding the court to make a decision for ceasing the injury of personal rights (Articles 144, 187, 188, 189, of the Law on Obligations in the Appendix III).
- So far no charges have been filed for protection of personality, or contempt of court and injury of procedure integrity by commenting on the type of the decision that is to be passed in an ongoing court procedure, or commenting an already reached court decision,or for violating the freedom of information with a direct application of the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights-art.6, 8 and 10. It remains to be seen to what extent citizens and the general public are acquainted with such a possibility.
20. There is a constitutional prohibition for media censorship, so there are no preventive measures for stopping an article or information from publishing or confiscating circulation. Neither the executive nor the court authorities monitor and censor the media. Media are also protected by legal responsibility for anyone who prevents printing and distribution of printed material under Article 154 of the Criminal Code (in the Appendix III).
- Apart from the State Radio and Television, founded by the Macedonian Parliament, which elects the management but does not have the mandate to determine the editorial policy, there are no other state electronic or printed media. All of them are founded independently, in accordance to legal regulations governing foundation of legal entities, without approval or permit from a state body.
21. The Judges Association reacted in the media after unfounded and biased assaults on judges. The judge is bound by the discretion principle when the press starts a campaign against him, and the State Judicial Council, after investigating the assault in the context of procedural violation and the conduct of the judge, according to the provisions of the Law on State Judicial council publishes a report in the media.
- Judges have never responded in the media after attacks on their person, and after biased articles related to the decisions made in a concrete case, and very rarely and unwilingly file charges for criminal acts against the honour and reputation inflicted through the media. In such an event they are exempted from acting in the concrete case. No damages compensation lawsuits have been started yet.
- In the interest of his own impartiality, the judge should not act in any way that would make him look biased towards one party. Therefore, the judge shall ask the attorneys, in court and in front of the public, to restrain from acting or giving biased statements or prejudices on any basis. Judges need to refrain from giving public statements on the ongoing or forthcoming case, which would allude to the final outcome or the decision, thus infringing justness. The judge shall ask court clerks working on the case not to give public case-related statements. Under the Law on Courts any kind of influence on the judge for the outcome of the trials is forbidden, especially a public statement in order to influence the course and the outcome of the court procedure. The judge may publicly state his attitudes related to promotion of law, the legal system and the functioning of judiciary at expert councils and legal expert seminars.
- There are no legal restrictions for judges to give statements pertaining a ongoing case, for example explaining the actions taken, obviously in line with all guarantees included in Articles 6, 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 3 of the Law on Criminal Procedure that warrants the presumption of innocence principle, obstruction of justice. If a judge should violate these principles in any way, he should, as a rule of thumb, be removed from the case or exempt under procedural laws.
- We can conclude that judges in the past were quite reserved about giving interviews in the media, explaining situations and issues in the judiciary, and they evaded publishing articles in the written media. They rarely sent letters with complaints about biased articles and attacks on judges and courts. In the daily or weekly newspapers they used to give legal advice to citizens, and this was usually done by retired judges. The general view that the judge's opinion can be seen only in the courtroom and in the verdict is slowly changing - he is a public figure who needs to be involved and give his opinion on all current events in society.
22. For publishing incorrect information journalists are liable to criminal and civil regulations for journalists and legal entities - newspaper press-office as well as the penalty of ban on carrying out a profession or activity, which can be stated as a separate punishment to a physical and legal entity (in the Appendix III). So far not a single editorial press-office of a written or electronic medium has been punished, nor the penalty of ban on carrying out a profession or activity to a journalist or an editorial press-office has been proclaimed.
D. ACCESSIBILITY, SIMPLIFICATION AND CLARITY OF THE LANGUAGE USED BY THE COURTS IN PROCEEDING AND DECISIONS
23. For the contents of written judgments in criminal and civil procedure, consult the provisions in the process laws in the Appendix III
- The opinion of experts, especially judges is that explications of written judgements should be shortened. With the amendments to the Law on Criminal Procedure, under Article 348 of the Law on Criminal Procedure, in certain conditions, the verdict does not have to contain an explication; decisions only in certain cases which are specially regulated in process laws contain an explanation.
NATIONAL PRACTICES REGARDING CRIMINAL ACTS RELATED TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, PROTECTION OF PRIVACY AND DIGNITY
Several conclusions can be made from the practice of the Basic Courts in the Republic of Macedonia, as first instance courts handling trials of all criminal acts against honour and reputation, as foreseen in Chapter 18 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Macedonia.
Approximately 50 such cases per annum were filed in the period between 2001-2004 in the Basic Court Skopje 1 in Skopje, as the court with biggest jurisdiction in the Republic of Macedonia, encompassing editorial press-offices of virtually all media in the Republic of Macedonia. The majority of them are defemation libel cases under Article 172, Paragraph 2, and the criminal act of slander, Article 173, Paragraph 2, of the Criminal Code, perpetrated through the media. Most frequently, legal action is taken following a private charge, and in only very few cases, prior to the amendments to the Criminal Code, ex officio upon proposal of the injured party. The list of perpetrators of such acts includes reporters, writers, editors-in-chief of daily newspapers and magazines, periodicals, TV editorial-offices, but also politicians and public officials. Plaintiffs come from politicians, Ministers in the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, Members of Parliament, both current and former, political party leaders, in one case the President of the country, and in several cases the Prime Minister of the Government of Macedonia. In few cases plaintiffs were athletes, entertainers and politicians. In only few cases plaintiffs were judges - their personalities were attacked (a defendant stated that at the time of the trial the judge was malicious and spiteful), or it was insinuated that the judge is mentally challenged and should be treated in a mental institution, or judges were accused of corruption, passing judgements under the influence of political parties. Matters in complaints are press articles accusing of misappropriation of money entrusted to senior government officials, violation of regulations for publishing tenders, irregularities during privatization of state property, i.e. chiefly irregularities and abuse of office,and corruption. In 2001, 36 cases were processed, 24 of which were discontinued and 5 cases were effectively completed. A court warning was issued in 2 of these cases, and fines were imposed in 3 of them, while the remaining cases are still in procedure. In 2002, there were 46 cases, 24 of which were discontinued, in two cases the defendants were acquitted, in other two the charges were rejected four of the perpetrators were fined while the remaining cases are in procedure. A total of 41 cases were processed in 2003, 27 of which were discontinued, one journalist was ordered on probation, and the remaining cases are still in process. In 2004, there were 46 cases, 5 of which were discontinued, and the others are still in process. All these cases lead to the conclusion that perpetrators were given mild verdicts, mostly fines ranging between EUR 200-1.500.There was not a case of publication of the court sentence in the media. The majority of these cases have not been solved yet, the procedures are taking very long, and the sessions are postponed mainly because the defendants inexcusably fail to attend the main hearing or because they are too busy. In order to avoid being criticized in the media, the judges rarely exercise their right to enforce bringing in the defendant reporters. Only in one case the court ordered a remand because the defendant journalist evaded the trial for a longer period, but under a strong pressure of the media, the detention was cancelled by a higher court upon defendant's appeal. Defendant reporters fail to observe court summons, they take advantage of the judges' indecisiveness and their fear of being stigmatised as violators of the freedom of information, even more so since these cases receive bigger media interest and there are always journalists attending these trials. The same happens after announcing verdicts in which defendant journalists are found guilty. Thus, in two cases, defendant journalists wrote follow-up stories in the newspapers publishing their verdicts, commenting on the judges' behaviour as being biased and unlawful, but these same verdicts were then confirmed by higher courts as fair and lawful. A large portion of the cases fell under the statute of limitations. When politicians are defendant in such cases, they often exercise their right to immunity, and the entire procedure takes longer due to the procedure of immunity cancellation. Nonetheless, these statistics show that the majority of cases were discontinued, in others the plaintiff failed to show up for the hearing whereupon under the law he was considered to have dropped the charges, or following his express statement of dropping the charges. The reasons for such endings of these cases are that they are constantly extended because of delay in serving summonses, court’s insufficient use of legal measures for enforcing defendants’ presence in court hearings, so that the plaintiffs, discouraged by court inefficiency and lack of swift court ending, but also because of high expenses, give up from prosecution. Consequently, we could say that there is insufficient court practice for such felonies which would serve as basis for a more comprehensive analysis, although the number of processed cases is not so low. In addition to objective and subjective weakness of the efficiency of the court system, the reason for this are also the rather vague regulations governing media information and the insufficient education of reporters, but also that of the judges regarding comparative legislation and practice in other states, as well as that of the European Court of Human Rights in this area. Reporters tend to take and present every criminal procedure for violation of honour and reputation brought against them as a violation of their freedom of information. Therefore there still remains a lot to be done in the future in creating methods which would establish the balance between these fundamental values of every democracy.
GOOD PRACTICES IMPLEMENTED AT NATIONAL LEVEL TOWARDS
ENHANCED JUDICARY-MEDIA RELATIONS
– THE EXISTING AND PROJECTED
-There have been two seminars on judicial transparency for the media and their interrelations so far. The first in 2000 which was arranged by the Centre for Continuous Education with the Macedonian Judges Association in cooperation with ABBA CEELI, and the second one in 2001 on the implementation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, organized by the Macedonian Judges Association, with the financial support of The Council of Europe. Attending the seminars were representatives of the Council of Europe, of the courts, public prosecutors, and Macedonian media. The role of the media was emphasized in the promotion and the use of the freedom of information, but also their responsibility in showing respect for citizens' reputation and privacy, for avoiding hate speech. The practice of the European Convention on Human Rights was presented in the application of its Article 10, the constitutional and legal protection of the freedom of speech in the Republic of Macedonia, Constitutional Court practices, the practice of Basic courts in criminal procedures of felonies against the honour and reputation committed through the media, the need for an enhanced unbiased professional reporting on the operation of the judiciary, the judges and specific court procedures free of speculations, partisan and emotional opinions, also opinions based on misinformation, unreliable sources, which has been the practice in the media very frequently lately. In order to protect citizens' rights, as well as courts' independence, it became necessary to open the judiciary to the media by providing expert, timely and comprehensive information in order to prevent any intentional leaks of untrue information, to introduce to the Criminal Code such provisions that would govern any instances of official sources leaking untrue information, and also the right of the concerned party to file charges when any false information coming from such a source has been released.
- For the benefit of unbiased and truthful reporting on trials, it is essential that reporters are allowed to follow court procedures through an internal TV network in rooms specially designated for this purpose, by getting access to live video and audio feeds, introducing occasional and regular press conferences, informal meetings of the judges with reporters and attorneys and using websites as sources of information.
- To introduce lectures and designated courses at the Faculties of Journalism on the basic court procedures, rules and restrictions in certain stages of court procedures, the way the courts and the prosecution are organized and the way they operate, court reporting, initial and regular trainings for reporters, their specialization, creation of manuals, enhancing reporters' self-regulation and the establishing of independent bodies for filing complaints in order to avoid court procedures; to introduce into the Code of Ethics of reporters such provisions that would govern court reporting, avoiding one-sided and biased reporting which means violation of the presumption of innocence, labelling of the suspects as sentenced, detailed regulation and sanctioning of publishing names and photographs of suspects and victims; access to records and documents which serve as evidence (in the Law on Free Access to Information), to introduce legal protection from ‘Media Trials’ as a means to put pressure on the court to pass a specific judgement, to avoid taking statements from suspects, witnesses and injured parties before they have given their official court affidavits, education of judges about the necessity of court transparency towards the media; involving professional journalist's associations in major legislative processes, translating the Recommendations and other documents of the bodies of the Council of Europe which are vital for freedom of information, publishing them in the bulletins of judges' and journalist's associations.
NATIONAL LEGISLATION ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION, JOURNALISTS’ ACCESS TO COURT HEARINGS AND FILES, AND THE STATUTORY FOUNDATION OF JOURNALISTS’ LIABILITY
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
The fundamental values of the constitutional order of the Republic of Macedonia are:
- the basic freedoms and rights of the individual and citizen, recognized in international law and set down in the Constitution;
- the free expression of national identity;
- the rule of law;
- the division of state powers into legislative, executive and judicial;
A person indicted for an offence shall be considered innocent until his/her guilt is established by a legally valid court verdict.
A person unlawfully detained, apprehended or convicted has a right to legal redress and other rights determined by law.
The freedom of personal conviction, conscience, thought and public expression of thought is guaranteed.
The freedom of speech, public address, public information and the establishment of institutions for public information is guaranteed.
Free access to information and the freedom of reception and transmission of information are guaranteed.
The right of reply via the mass media is guaranteed.
The right to a correction in the mass media is guaranteed.
The right to protect a source of information in the mass media is guaranteed.
Censorship is prohibited.
The security and confidentiality of personal information are guaranteed.
Citizens are guaranteed protection from any violation of their personal integrity deriving from the registration of personal information through data processing.
Court hearings and the passing of verdicts are public.
The public can be excluded in cases determined by law.
The court tries cases in council.
The law determines cases in which a judge can sit alone.
Jury judges take part in a trial in cases determined by law.
Jury judges cannot be held answerable for their opinions and decisions concerning their verdict.
MACEDONIAN JUDGES' ASSOCIATION CODE OF JUDICIAL ETHICS SKOPJE, 1994
Taking the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia as a point of departure, and in order to uphold the judicial branch as an autonomous and independent, and to determine the content and extent of rights and responsibilities of the judicial office and to
facilitatein molding the personality of a judge - members of the
MacedonianJudges' Association are binding themselves that in
their workthey shall be guided by: The Code of Judicial Ethics
1.The Code of Judicial Ethics is comprised of the most significant principles by which judges shall be guided when performing the judicial office based on the Constitution, statutes and ratified international treaties.
2.The principles of judicial ethics are based on moral rules of conduct as well as on fundamental values of the constitutional order, including:
-Basic freedoms and rights of the individual and citizen set forth in the Constitution and recognized by the international law.
-The rule of law.
-Humanism, social justice and solidarity.
-The legal protection of property.
-The freedom of the market and entrepreneurship.
3.Judges shall be free and it is their duty to render impartial decisions based on their evaluation of the facts and interpretation of the law. They shall be unbiased, not falling under any party's direct or indirect influence, inducement, pressure, threat and interference, for any reason.
In the decision making process, judges shall be independent f rom their colleagues and superiors. Dif f erences concerning judge I s degree and rank should not have any impact on his or her right to render a decision freely.
GOALS AND FUNCTIONS
4.The code provides that judges, when performing the function of their office, will accomplish goals and functions of the judiciary, such as:
a)Impartial application of the law regardless of the parties involved.
b)Promotion within the judicial office of the observance
of human rights.
c)Assurance for all people to able to live in safety and in conformity with the law.
MOLDINGOF A PERSONALITY
5.During the elections and performance of the judicial
office,any unequal treatment based on sex, race, color of skin,
national and social origin, political and religious affiliation, and social status should not exist.
A judge should be acquainted with cultural values, and follow cultural, scientific and political achievements and developments, in order to improve his or herself as a person capable of understanding social and personal problems of the people with whom he or she interacts when performing the judicial office.
PRESERVING THE DIGNITY OF THE COURT
6.When preforming his/her work, a judge shall preserve the dignity and authority of the court, and endeavor to insure the preservation of the dignity of the court by anyone with whom he or she interacts in the performance of his/her office.
Also, a judge should take care to preserve the dignity of the court outside the court house by preserving a high degree of personal, professional and moral authority. For this reason, a judge should refrain from any deeds and contacts that may have negative impact on his/her personal and professional authority.
RELATIONSHIP WITH PARTIES
7.A judge must foster proper relationships with all parties involved in the proceedings before the court. Outside the courtroom, he or she shall always endeavor to provide for the presence of both parties at the same time, i.e., counsellor, attorney, plaintiff and the like.
Judges shall show proper respect towards members of the legal community, associates and trainees, public prosecutors, public defenders, jurors and other employees.
DUTY WHILE HANDLING CASES
8.A judge shall observe the procedural rules and endeavor to diligently and efficiently complete the cases. This goal should be accomplished by his or her personal engagement and continuing legal education, and by not prolonging the proceedings and not allowing other participants to do so.
A judge must provide a fair trial and comprehensively examine all allegations concerning infringement of rights of the parties or witnesses, including allegations regrading proceedings.
CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION
9.In order to have more comprehensive and diligent performance of the judicial office, legal education is ongoing and therefore, a judge shall follow and review regulations, law textbooks, and participate with his/her writings and opinions in professional journals, seminars and roundtables. By his or her writings and opinions, a judge shall follow new developments of the constitutional order, and be knowledgeable in the area of his/her specialization. A judge should be aware that only by constantly improving professional knowledge will he or she be able to successfully perform duties deriving from the judicial office.
Judges should be knowledgeable of international conventions and other instruments for protection of human rights and endeavor to implement them to the fullest possible extent, within the framework of the Constitution and law.
IMMUNITY AND PRIVILEGE
10.Judges must be protected f rom harassment, and lawsuits due to actions undertaken when performing their office can not be brought before a court, and the judge cannot be charged unless permission is first obtained from the appropriate judicial authority
Judges shall kept all information gathered while performing their duties as a professional secret, except that information presented at the court sessions. Judges can not be required to testify upon issues concerning this information.
During their mandate, judges shall receive salaries, and after their retirement, pensions.
Salaries and pensions of the judges shall be adequate to the status, dignity and responsibilities of the judicial office and can not be reduced by anyone or by any act.
Appropriate authorities of the executive branch must at all times ensure security and physical protection of the judges and their families.
RESTRICTIONS CONNECTED TO THE JUDICIAL OFFICE
- Judges can not preform a non-judicial office that may discredit their independence.
- Judges can not give counsels opinions, except in a case having an explicit constitutional or legal provision.
- Judges must refrain from business activities, except activities concerning their personal investments and property.
- Judges can not be engaged in providing legal assistance.
- Judges must be challenged whenever there are questions about their impartiality, as well as when a conflict of interests incompatible with the judicial office shall arise.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CODE'S PRINCIPLES
12.It is an honorable and moral responsibility of a judge to comply with these principles, and to improve and enrich them, and be a role-model to others to observe and comply with them.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR VIOLATION OF THE PRINCIPLES
13.A judge is morally liable if he or she violates principles of this Code.
THE BROADCASTING LAW
The broadcasting organizations perform their activities in terms of programme.
The programme as of paragraph 1 in this article contains informative, science, educational, cultural, sports, and economical and other contents of interest to the life and work of citizens, which provide the following:
- respect of the freedom and the rights of men, their dignity and
- free affirmation of opinions and beliefs, multilateral and objective informing of listeners & viewers as well as enriching their general knowledge and entertainment;
- protecting and affirmation of the Macedonian cultural tradition and the nationalities that live in Republic of Macedonia, and participation in the cultural life;
- encouraging of the spirit of tolerance, mutual respect and understanding among individuals of different ethnical and cultural descent;
- encouraging of the international understanding and co-operation, the feeling of the public for fairness, defending of the democratic freedom and openly telling the truth;
- equality of freedom and rights, regardless of the sex, race, colour, national and social descent, political and religious beliefs and the material an social status of men and citizens and the protection of children and motherhood and
- protection and improvement of the natural environment.
Television programs can include teletext services.
The programme of a broadcasting organisation should fulfil the following requirements:
- true presentation of events with equal treatment of different approach and opinion;
- true, unbiased and professional coverage of news and events;
- encouraging of free forming of opinion on certain events and issues and
- opinions and comments should be distinguished as such, with clear specification of who holds those comments and opinions.
State officials and municipal administration, and their representatives must not influence the creation of programmes of radio and television, or their work activities.
A physical person or a legal entity concerned by the factual state or profit in a radio or TV programme has the right to response.
The response should be brief and limited to facts, submitted within 30 days from the day of broadcasting, presented in written form and signed by the person concerned or his legal representative.
The broadcasting organisation must feature the response in the shortest-term possible, or in the next edition of the same programme, without compensation, in order to present the controversial factual statement to the general audience.
It is hot allowed to present the simultaneous comment on the response after the announced information.
The broadcasting organisation should be allowed access to the information available through:
- monitoring of the work of state organs, municipalities, and other institutions and authorities or work activities of public interest;
- covering cultural, sports and other events without special compensation in order to prepare and feature brief reports in the informative programs.
The broadcasting organisations can feature excerpts of programmes of other broadcasting organisations of paragraph 1, point 2 in this article without compensation in the duration of the information source.
The source of the presented information and materials researched by the journalists are protected, with the exception of revealing the source by a court decision.
CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
(1) Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time and before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal, established by law.
(2) Every accused has the following minimum rights:
- to be informed immediately and in detail, in a language which he understands, of the crime he is imposed on and the evidence against him;
- to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with a counsel of his own choosing;
- to be tried in his presence and to defend himself in person or by legal assistance of his own choosing and to have legal assistance assigned to him, in any case where the interests of justice so require, and without payment by him in any such case if he does not have sufficient means to pay for it;
- not to be compelled to testify against himself or his relatives or to confess guilt;
- to be present during the examination of the witnesses and to be able to ask questions himself.
(1) The prosecutor and the counsel have a right to be present at the examination of the accused.
(2) The prosecutor, damaged, accused, and counsel have a right to be present at the inspection and at the hearing of the experts.
(3) The prosecutor and the counsel have a right to be present at the search of premises.
(4) At the hearing of the witness the prosecutor, the accused and the counsel have a right to be present when it is likely that the witness will not attend the trial, when the investigating judge finds it necessary or when one of the parties has requested to attend the hearing. The damaged may be present at the hearing of the witness only when it is probable that the witness will not attend the trial.
(5) The investigating judge is obliged in an appropriate manner to inform the prosecutor, counsel, damaged and accused of the time, place of the conduct of the investigating acts to which they cannot be present, unless there is a danger of cancelling. If the accused has a counsel, by rule the investigating judge will inform only the counsel.
(6) If the person to whom the announcement for the investigating act is addressed, is not present, the act may be conducted in his absence.
(7) Persons present at the investigating acts may propose to the investigating judge the accused, the witness or the expert to be examined in order the issues to be clarified, and if the investigating judge allows it, the persons present at the investigating acts may ask questions themselves. These persons have a right to request there notes to be included in the minutes considering the conduct of certain acts, and they may propose certain evidence to be presented.
(8) Due to the explanation of certain technical and other professional questions in connection with the evidence or during the examination of the accused or initiation of other investigating acts, the investigating judge may ask the person with a certain specialisation to give necessary explanation on those questions. If during the explanation the parties are present, they can ask from that person to give closer and more detailed explanation. In case it is necessary, the investigating judge may request explanation from an appropriate specialised institution.
(9) Provisions under paragraphs 1 to 8 of this Article are applied when the investigating act is initiated, before the decision for investigation is brought.
If it is on behalf of the interest of the criminal procedure, of concealing secrets, of the public order and ethical reasons, the official who initiates the investigation will order the persons who are heard or present at the investigation or have an access to the records of the investigation to conceal as secrets certain facts or data which they have learnt and will inform them that revealing secrets is crime. This order will be included in the minutes for the investigation i.e. will be noted on the records with a signature by the person who has been instructed.
The accused has the right to an access to the records and to the objects which serve as evidence, after he has been examined.
(1) During the investigation the damaged and the private plaintiff have a right to point out all the facts and suggest evidence which are important to detect the crime, to reveal the criminal and to establish their lawful property requests.
(2) At the trial, they have the right to suggest evidence, to question the accused, witnesses and experts, to object and explain in reference of their statements and to give other statements and suggestions.
(3) The damaged, the damaged as a plaintiff and the private prosecutor have a right to the records and cases which serve as evidence. The damaged may not have the right to the records until he is examined as a witness.
(4) The investigating judge and the Chairman of the Chamber will inform the damaged and the private plaintiff of their rights under paragraphs 1 to 3 of this Article.
When the request of the authorised prosecutor for initiation of a criminal procedure is submitted, as well as when, before bringing the decision for investigation, the investigating judge has conducted necessary investigation, the counsel has a right to have an access to the records and other obtained material which serve as evidence.
(1) Witnesses are heard separately and without the presence of other witnesses. They are obliged to answer orally.
(2) The witness will be previously warned that he is obliged to speak the truth and must not conceal anything and hereby he will be warned that giving false statements is crime. The witness will be warned that he is not obliged to answer the questions encompassed in Article 221 of this Code and the warning will be included in the minutes.
(3) Afterwards the witness will be asked about his name, father's name, occupation, residence, place of birth, age and his relationship to the accused and damaged. The witness will be warned that he is obliged to inform the court of his new address or residence.
(4) During examination of a minor, especially when damaged with a crime, it will be acted carefully so that the hearing does not inflict the psychical condition of the minor. If it is necessary, the hearing of the minor will be performed by an assistance of a pedagogue or another specialised person.
(1) The trial is public.
(2) Adults may be present at the trial.
(3) Persons who are present at the trial must not carry guns or dangerous tools, except for the guard of the accused who may be armed.
From the beginning to the end of the trial the Chamber may at any time ex officio or on the proposal on the parties but always after their hearing exclude the public from the trial or from a part of it if it is necessary a secret to be kept, the public order to be restored, the morality to be protected, the personal and private life of the accused to be protected, the witness or the damaged to be protected and the interests of the minor to be also protected.
(1) The exclusion of the public does not refer to the parties, the damaged, their representatives and the counsel.
(2) The Chamber may allow at the trial where the public is excluded to be present certain officials, scientific and public workers, and on the request of the accused may also be present his marital i.e. illegitimate spouse and his close relatives under Article 351, paragraph 2 of this Code.
(3) The Chairman of the Chamber will warn the persons who attend the trial where the public is excluded that they are obliged to keep as a secret everything that they learn at the trial and he will underline that any revealing of a secret is a crime.
(1) A resolution for exclusion of the public is brought by the Chamber with a decision which must be elaborated and announced in public.
(2) The decision for exclusion of the public may be denied only with an appeal on the verdict.
(1) The duty of the Chairman of the Chamber is to take care the order in the court room and the dignity of the court to be maintained. Immediately after the beginning of the trial he may warn the participants in the trial to behave appropriately and not to disturb the proceeding at the court. The Chairman of the Chamber may determine the participants at the trial to be searched.
(2) The Chamber may order the persons who observe the trial to be removed from the trial and if with the measures for maintenance of the order encompassed within this Code a continuous course of the trial cannot be achieved.
(3) Film and television recordings cannot be performed in the court room. With exception, the President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Macedonia may allow such recordings at a certain trial. Even if a recording is allowed, the Chamber may for justified reasons decide particular parts of the trial not to be recorded.
(1) If after the words of the parties the Chamber does not find that more evidence are to be presented, the Chairman of the Chamber will announce that the trial is completed.
(2) Then the Chamber will withdraw for deliberation and voting in order a verdict to be brought.
During the court procedure, the public prosecutor, or else the investigating judge or the council president, shall take any such measures and action that would provide for efficient witness protection as well as the protection of justice collaborators and the victims, in any such case when there is danger of their exposure to intimidation, retaliation threats or when their life or physical integrity has been jeopardized or when their protection is required.
- Protection measures include secrecy of identity, providing personal protection, change of the place of living or the accommodation and employment, as well as change of identity by issuing new identification documents, as well as other protection measures prescribed by law
- The decision for granting protection measures is sealed in a special container and kept with the public prosecutor, the investigating judge or the council president, separate from any other records, and it can not be accessed, and the court file only holds the registration number under which the decision is filed without disclosing the identity of the witness and the respective measures for his/her protection.
(1) Without a permission of the court the course of the criminal procedure for the minor must not be announced nor the decision brought in that procedure.
(2) It may be announced only the part of the procedure, i.e. only the part of the decision for which there is an approval, but in that case cannot be noted the name of the minor or other data on which grounds it could be concluded which minor is in question.
1. Pronouncement of the verdict
(1) If during the deliberation the court does not find that the trial should be opened again due to supplementing of the procedure or enlightenment of certain issues, it will pronounce a verdict.
(2) The verdict is pronounced and publicly announced in the name of the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia.
(1) Advising and secret ballot are performed at a session.
(2) Only the members of the Chamber and the court clerk can be present at the advising and secret ballot office and the results of the secret ballot must not be announced.
(1) If by the Code it is not established differently, resolutions are announced orally to the interested persons if present, and by delivering certified transcript if absent.
(2) If the resolution is orally announced it will be written in the minutes or registration list and the person being given the announcement will certify it with a signature. If the interested person states that he is not going to appeal, the certified transcript of the oral announcement of the resolution will not be delivered to him, if by this Code it is not established differently.
(3) Transcripts of resolutions against which an appeal is allowed are delivered with instructions for the right to an appeal.
(1) The written verdict must be fully adequate to the verdict which is pronounced. The verdict must have an introduction, pronouncement and an elaboration.
(2) The introduction of the verdict consists of: a notification that the verdict is pronounced in the name of the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, the name of the court, the names of the Chairman of the Chamber, the members of the Chamber and the court clerk, the name of the accused, the crime he is accused of, whether he was present at the trial, the day of the trial and whether it was public, the names of the prosecutor, counsel, defence attorney and the authorised representative who were present at the trial and the day of the announcement of the pronounced verdict.
(3) The pronouncement of the verdict consists of the personal details of the accused (Article 205, paragraph 1) and the decision with which the accused is found guilty of the crime he is accused of or with which he is released of his charge of that crime or with which the prosecution is rejected.
(4) If the defendant is found guilty, the pronouncement of the verdict has to encompass the necessary data noted in Article 343 of this Code and if the accused is released of his charge or if the accusation is rejected, the pronouncement of the verdict must encompass the description of the crime he is accused of and the decision on the expenses of the criminal procedure and the legal property request, if it has been requested.
(5) In case of a series of crimes, in the pronouncement of the verdict the court will insert the certified punishments for each separate crime and then the punishment which is pronounced for the serial crimes.
(6) In the elaboration of the verdict the court will present the reasons for each item of the verdict.
(7) The court will fully and completely present which facts and for which reasons are considered to be proved or not, giving a special evaluation of the adequacy of the dissenting evidence, for which reasons it has not approved of certain proposals of the parties, for which reasons it has decided on the lawful issues and especially on the determination whether there is a crime and a criminal responsibility of the accused and on the application of certain provisions of the Criminal Code on the accused and his crime.
(8) If the accused is convicted with a punishment, it will be noted in the elaboration which circumstances the court has taken in consideration during the deliberation of the punishment.
(9) If the accused is released from his charge in the elaboration will be particularly noted for which reasons under Article 342 of this Code it has been decided.
(10) In the elaboration of the verdict which rejects the accusation, the court will not indulge into evaluation of the main issue, but it will limit itself to the reasons for the rejection of the accusation.
(11) The parties and the damaged may withdraw from their right to an appeal immediately after the announcement of the verdict. In such a case, the copy of the verdict will be delivered to the party and to the damaged only if they request it. If both parties and the damaged, after the announcement of the verdict have withdrawn from the right to an appeal and if no one of them has requested a delivery of the verdict, the written verdict needs not contain an elaboration.
(5) The public prosecutor and other state agencies, institutions which perform public authorisations and other legal persons, when collecting reports i.e. giving data, are obliged to act cautiously, to consider that the person's honour and authority to whom these data refer are not damaged.
LAW ON TRIAL PROCEEDINGS
The court decides over the claim from the charge, in principle, based on an oral, direct and public hearing.
The main hearing is public.
Only adult persons may be present at the hearing.
The persons who are present at the hearing may not carry weapons or dangerous tools.
The stipulation from paragraph 3 of this article does not apply to the guards of the persons who participate in the proceedings.
The council may exclude the public for the whole main hearing, or for a part of it, if this is demanded by the interests for guarding the official, business or personal confidence, the interests of public order, or for reasons of morality.
The council may also exclude the public in the case when, even with the measures for maintaining order, foreseen by this law, an undisturbed holding of the hearing cannot be provided.
The judgment is pronounced and announced in the name of the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia.
When the main hearing is held before a council, the judgment is passed by the president of the council and the members of the council who participate in the hearing for which the main hearing has been concluded. Immediately after the conclusion of the main hearing, the court makes a decision which is announced by the president of the council.
In more complex cases, the court may postpone the passing of a judgment for 15 days from the day the main hearing is concluded. In such a case, the judgment shall not be announced, but the court shall deliver a transcript of the judgment to the parties.
In the case from article 289 paragraph 2 of this law the judgment shall be passed at the latest within 15 days after the day of reception of the file, respectively the record. This judgment shall not be announced.
When the judgment is announced, the president of the council shall publicly read out the pronouncement and he shall state in short what the reasons for the judgment were.
During the announcement of the judgment, it may be reported that the court had decided to judge about weighing out the expenses later. In such a case, the weighing out of the expenses is performed by the president of the council, and the decision is entered into the written composition of the judgment.
If the public was excluded at the main hearing, the pronouncement of the judgment shall always be read out publicly, and the court shall decide whether and how much the public shall be excluded during the announcement of the reasons for the judgment.
Everyone who is present shall hear out the reading of the pronouncement of the judgment in standing position.
LAW OF THE COURTS
The objectives and functions of the judiciary comprise:
impartial application of the law disregarding the position and social status of parties;
promotion of the protection and respect for human freedoms and rights, within the framework of the implementation of the judicial office, and
legal security and creation of conditions for all individuals to live safely within the framework of the implementation of law.
The procedure followed by the court is regulated by law.
The procedure followed by the court is especially based upon the following principles:
legality, legal equity of the parties, equity, publicity, contradiction, two instances,
sitting in a panel,
- freedom of speech,
directness, right to a defense, that is representation, free assessment of the evidence,
the establishment of material truth, and economy.
The principles of the procedures, the ways of their accomplishment and the possible deviation in separate principles are more precisely regulated by the law on the separate procedures.
Court decisions are pronounced on behalf of the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia.
The effective court decision has inviolable affect.
The court decision may be changed or abolished only by a competent court and in a procedure regulated by law.
Court decision are obligatory to all judicial and physical persons and are of a higher instance in relation to the decisions of any other body.
Everyone is obliged to abide by the effective and executive court verdict under threat of legal sanctions.
A judge makes impartial decisions on the basis of his/her free appraisal of the evidence and application of the law.
At the time of the decision-making any forms of limitation, influence, inducement, pressure, threat or interference, direct or indirect, cannot be made upon judges, regardless of whoever the subject and whatever the reason may be.
No one has a right in whatever way to limit or thwart the right of a judge to proclaim freely his/her decision.
Information for the public through the media in connection with the procedure in a specific matter, as well as for the work of the court, is given by the Chairman of the court or the judge he/she authorizes for that purpose, considering not to damage the reputation, honor and dignity of personality, and if it is not to the disadvantage of the independence and autonomy of the court.
CODE OF JOURNALISTS OF MACEDONIA
PRINCIPLES OF CONDUCT
Freedom of the media is undeniable.
Main duty of the journalist is to respect the truth and right of the public to be informed, in accordance to Article 16 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia.
The journalists have a role of transmitters of information, ideas and opinions, and have a right to comment. By respecting the ethical virtues and professional standards regarding the presentation of information, the journalists shell be honest, objective and will report promptly.
Right and obligation of the journalists is to strive to prevent censorship and distortion of news.
Having in mind their role in the building of democracy and civic society, the journalists shall defend the human rights, dignity and freedom, shall respect the pluralism of ideas and opinions, shall contribute to strengthening of the legal state and shall participate in the control over the government and other subjects in the public life.
BASED ON THESE PRINCIPLES AND ETHICAL VALUES:
1. The journalists have right to free access to all sources of information that are of public interest.
The journalists shall publish correct, verified information and will not conceal essential information or forge documents.
If given information cannot be confirmed or if it is a matter of assumption, i.e. speculation, that should be noted and published.
Correctness of the information ought to be verified as much as possible.
2. If the journalist is prevented from coming to an information, he/she has the right to inform the public about that.
3. The journalist shall strive to provide publication of correction, denial or reply in cases when given information is found to be incorrect.
4. The journalist shall point out the source of information, but if the source demands to remain anonymous the journalist shall protect him.
5. The journalist shall respect the rule of law and will publish nothing that is on the contrary with the public interest.
6. The journalist must not use the media he/she works in for publication or concealing of information in order to gain personal benefit.
Bribe, corruption and racketeering cannot be put in context with the journalistic profession.
Influence from advertising and other commercial motives on the freedom of
informing must not be allowed.
There should be demarcation between advertising and journalistic text with illustration.
7. The journalist shall respect the privacy of every person, except in cases when that is on the contrary with the public interest.
The journalist is obliged to respect the personal pain and grief.
8. The manner of informing in case of accident, elementary disaster, war, family tragedy, sickness, court procedures must be free from sensationalism.
The principle of presumption of innocence, reporting for all involved parties in the legal dispute without suggesting verdict, will be applied when reporting on court procedures.
9. The journalist must not interview or photograph children under 16 years of age without agreement from the parents or legal guardians, unless that is in accordance to the children rights.
The same refers to people with special needs, who are not able to decide rationally.
10. The journalists shall not consciously create or process information that jeopardize the human rights and freedoms, shall not use hate speech and shall not encourage discrimination of any sort (nationality, religion, sex, social class, language, sexual orientation, political orientation…)
11. The journalist shall observe the general social standards of decency and shall respect the ethnic, cultural and religious differences in the Republic of Macedonia.
12. Plagiarism is unacceptable.
Quotes must not be used if the author or the source is not specified.
13. The journalist ought to make distinction between facts and opinions, news and comments.
14. Reporting on political processes, especially elections, must be impartial, balanced and fair.
The journalist must make professional distance from the political subjects.
15. The journalist must maintain the culture of speech and ethics.
Impolite manner of communicating with the public is on the contrary with the journalistic profession.
16. The journalist shall defend the reputation and dignity of his/hers profession, shall urge mutual solidarity and difference in opinions and will not misuse the media he/she works in for personal vendetta against other persons, including his colleagues.
17. The journalist has the right to refuse a given task if that is on the contrary with the principles of this code.
The journalists who work in accordance to this code enjoy support from their media outlets and professional organization.
In accordance to the Laws of the Republic of Macedonia, the journalists shall accept only the court of their colleagues regarding the profession and shall be free from political and other influence.
The Council of Honor is responsible for observing of the principles of this code.
LAW ON OBLIGATION RELATIONS
A request to cease any personal rights injury
(1) Any person has the right to demand of the court or of any other body in charge to order the cessation of any such action that is harmful to the integrity of the person, of his personal and family life and other personality rights;
(2)The court, or any other authorized body, may order that unless such harmful action is terminated, the perpetrator shall be charged a fine of a lump sum or per time unit, in the benefit of the injured party.
Special provisions for compensation of any material damages in an instance of defamation or spreading fabrications.
(1) Any person who would intentionally harm the honour of another person, or whowould
make up or spread untrue statements about the past, the expertise, the capability of
another person or anything similar, knowingly or supposedly knowing that these were
lies and thus causing material damage, is liable to compensate it.
(2) A person who is not aware that he/she has been spreading fabrications shall not be
held accountable for the damage inflicted, if either he or the person he has disclosed this
information to had any substantial interest in any such information.
Non-material damages compensation
Pronunciation of verdict or verdict rectification
In the event violation of rights of personality, the court may order that the verdict or its rectification is announced at the expense of the perpetrator, or else order the perpetrator to withdraw his/her harmful statement, or anything else that may be used in order to fulfil the aim which is otherwise achieved by the fee.
(1) Fair fine shall be designated, regardless of the material damage fee or its absence, for inflicting any physical pain, mental sufferings due to impaired bodily functions, damaged physical appearance, for harming reputation and honour, violating human freedoms and rights, death of a close relative and for fear, provided that it is established the circumstances of said case and especially the gravity of the pain and fear and their length justify any such fines.
(2) In deciding upon the request for non-material compensation as well as its amount, the court shall consider carefully the significance of the damaged goods and the purpose of the compensation, but also to avoid any possible misuse of said compensation.
DRAFT LAW ON ADMINISTRATIVE DISPUTES
The court shall bring decisions upon administrative disputes at closed sessions.
The court can hold hearings due to the complexity of the disputed matter or when the court finds it necessary for better clarification of the situation.
The party can suggest hearings, out of the same reasons.
LAW ON GENERAL ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES
COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE UNITS AND THE PARTIES
(1) Documents shall mean requests, forms used for automatic data processing, proposals, notifications, applications, appeals, complaints and other information that the individuals or legal entities i.e. organizations submit to the units.
(2) Generally, the documents shall be submitted directly or sent by mail in a written form, or verbally presented and entered into a register. Unless otherwise stipulated, the documents may be submitted by cable. Brief and urgent information may be given by phone, if the nature of the work allows that.
The document shall be submitted each working day during the working hours to the unit authorized to receive such document. The verbal documents that have no time limit or are not urgent may be given in previously determined hours during the working hours. The time determined for such verbal documents shall be announced by each unit on a clearly visible spot in the unit’s premises.
(1) The unit authorized to receive the document i.e. the verbal information shall be obliged to receive the submitted document i.e. to register the verbal information.
(2) The recipient employee shall, upon a personal verbal request of the plaintiff, certify receipt of the document. No tax shall be imposed on such certification.
(3) In case the unit is not authorized to receive the written document, i.e. the registered verbal information, the official person in that unit shall warn the plaintiff thereof and advise him/her on the authorized unit. However, if the plaintiff, despite the warning, requests his/her document to be accepted, the employee shall be obliged to accept such document i.e. verbal information. If the unit finds that it is not authorized to take any action regarding the document, then the unit shall adopt a resolution by which it shall reject the document.
(4) If the unit receives a document by mail and it is not authorized for such document, then the unit shall immediately mail the document to the authorized unit or to the court and shall advise the party thereof. In case the unit that received the document cannot determine which unit is authorized to act according to the document, then the unit shall adopt a resolution and reject the document ad unauthorized. The resolution shall be submitted to the party without a delay.
(5) The party shall have the right to lodge an appeal against the resolution stated in paragraphs 3 and 4 above.
(6) In case the unit receives a complaint for initiating an administrative procedure by mail, then it shall submit the complaint to the authorized court immediately and advise thereof the plaintiff.
Examination of Documents and Information in the Course of the Procedure
(1) The parties shall have the right to examine the documents of the case and to copy the documents they need at their own cost. The examination and the copying of the documents shall be made under the supervision of an official person.
(2) Any person who has a justifiable interest to examine the documents shall have the right to do that and copy them at his/her own expense. The public organizations and expert associations, if they have justifiable interest, shall also have the right to examine and copy the documents.
(4) The following documents shall not be examined or copied: the record on the discussion and voting, official documents and draft decisions, and other documents that are considered confidential, if such action would frustrate the purpose of the procedure, or if it is against the public interest, or the interest of the party or third persons.
(1) The hearing shall be public.
(2) The official that administers the procedure may close the hearing for the public, completely or partially, if:
1) there are ethical reasons or for protection of the public security;
(2) there is a serious and direct danger that the hearing shall be jeopardized;
(3) the relations in certain family matters are to be heard;
(4) the circumstances that have to be heard are considered to be official, business, professional, scientific or artistic secret.
(3) The proposal for closing the hearing for the public may be given by the interested party.
(4) A resolution shall be adopted for closing the hearing for the public. Such resolution shall be elaborated and given in public.
(5) The resolution shall obligatorily be public.
(1) The hearing shall not be closed for the parties, their authorized persons and expert advisors.
(2) The official that administers the procedure may allow presence of certain officials, experts and public figures at a closed hearing if this is in the interest of their work. The official that administers the procedure shall inform these persons that they are obliged to consider the hearing as confidential.
2.4. SPECIAL PROVISIONS ON CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR CRIMES PERPETRATED THROUGH THE PUBLIC MEDIA
Criminal responsibility of the chief editor
(1) The Chief Editor, respectively the person substituting for him at the time when the information was published, is criminally responsible for crimes committed through a newspaper or some other periodical publication, through radio, television or through film news, if:
1) the author remained unknown until the conclusion of the main hearing before the court of first instance;
2) the information was published without consent from the author;
3) at the time of publication of the information actual or legal hindrances existed for the persecution of the author, which continue to last.
(2) The Chief Editor, respectively the person substituting for him, is not criminally responsible if for justified reasons he did not know about one of the circumstances listed in points 1, 2 and 3 of item 1.
Criminal responsibility of the
publisher, printer and producer
(1) When the circumstances from article 26 exist, criminal responsibility is born by:
1) the publisher - for a crime committed through a non-periodically printed publication, and if there is no publisher or if actual or legal hindrances exist for his persecution - by the printer who knew about it;
2) the producer - for a crime committed through a record, a tape, a film for private or public presentation, slides, phonograms, video and audio means or similar communication means intended for a wider circle of people.
(2) If the publisher, printer or producer is a legal entity or a state agency, criminal responsibility is born by the person responsible for the publication, printing or production.
If the crime is commited through the public media which is published, printed or broadcasted abroad, and is distributed in the country, the importer or the distributer is criminally responsible.
Application of the general provisions
on criminal responsibility
The provisions on criminal responsibility for the persons listed in articles 26 and 27 shall apply only if these persons are not criminally responsible according to the general provisions for criminal responsibility in this Code.
Types of punishments
For crimes, the criminally responsible offenders may be sentenced to:
1. punishment of imprisonment;
3. prohibition on performing a profession, an activity or a function;
4. prohibition on driving a motor vehicle;
5. expulsion of a foreigner from the country.
Prohibition on performing a profession,
an activity or a function
(1) The court may prohibit the perpetrator who is sentenced to a punishment of imprisonement, or conditional sentenced to perform a certain profession or independent activity, functions or matters in connection with disposing over, the use, management and handling of property or with custody over this property, if he has misused his position, his performing a profession or function in order to commit a crime, and if it can justly be expected that he would misuse the performing of such activity for committing crimes.
(2) The court determines the duration of the measure from item 1, which cannot be shorter than one year nor longer than ten years, reckoning from the day the sentence comes into effect, whereby the time passed in a prison, respectively in a health institution for custody and treatment, is not reckoned in the time of duration of this measure.
(3) When pronouncing a conditional sentence, the court may determine that this shall be revoked if the offender violates the prohibition on performing a profession, activity or function.
Types of punishments for legal entities:
2. temporarely prohibition on performing a profession,
an activity or a function;
3. permanent prohibition on performing a profession,
an activity or a function;
4. cease of the legal entity.
18. CRIMES AGAINST HONOR AND REPUTATION
(1) A person who expresses or spreads some untruth about another, which could damage his honor and reputation, shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to six months.
(2) If the crime from item 1 is committed by means of the press, radio, television, e-mail or through other public media or at a public gathering, the offender shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to one year.
(3) If the untruth that is expressed or spread is of such significance that it caused or could have caused severe consequences for the damaged, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment of three months to three years.
(4) If the accused proves the truth of his statement, or if he proves that he had founded reason to believe in the truthfulness of what he had stated or spread, he shall not be punished for defamation.
(5) A person who falsely expresses or spreads about another that he has committed a crime which is prosecuted in the line of duty, shall be punished for defamation, even though he had had founded reason to believe in the truthfulness of what he expressed or spread, if the expression or spreading is not done under the conditions from article 176, item 2. The truthfulness of the fact that another has committed a crime for which he is prosecuted in line of duty may be proved only with a sentence that has come into effect, and with other evidence only if the prosecution of the trial is not possible or is not allowed.
(1) A person who insults another shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to three months.
(2) If the crime from item 1 was committed through the press, radio, television, e-mail or with other public media or at a public gathering, the offender shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to six months.
(3) A person, who with the intention will publicly express another to ridicule because of his belonging to certain community, ethnic or racial group, or religious belief, shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment up to one year.
or family circumstances
(1) A person who expresses or spreads something from the personal or family life of some person which could harm the reputation of that person, shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to six months.
(2) If the crime from item 1 is committed through the press, radio, television, e-mail or with other public media or at a public gathering, the offender shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to one year.
(3) If what is expressed or spread is of such significance that it caused or could have caused severe consequences for the damaged, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment of three months to three years.
(4) The truthfulness or falsehood of what is being expressed or spread in regard to the personal or family life of some person cannot be proven, except in the case of article 176, item 3.
Slight with reproach about a crime
(1) A person who intending to slight another, reproaches him that he has committed some kind of crime, or that he has been sentenced for some kind of crime, or he expresses this to another with the same intention, shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to three months.
(2) If the crime from item 1 is committed through the press, radio, television, e-mail or with other public media or at a public gathering, the offender shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to six months.
No punishment of crimes
from articles 172 to 175
(1) A person shall not be punished who expresses himself insultingly about another in a scientific, literary or artistic work, in a serious piece of critics, in performing an official duty, journalist vocation, political or some other social activity, in defense of the freedom of public expression or other rights or during protection of puvlic or other justified interests, if it can be concluded that from the manner of expression or from other circumstances, this was not done with the intention of slight,or does not cause a significant offend of the reputation of the person
(2) In the cases from item 1, a person shall not be punished who expresses or spreads about another that he has committed a crime which is prosecuted in line of duty even though there is no sentence that has come into effect (article 172, item 5), if he proves that he had grounds to believe in the truthfulness of what he expressed or spread.
(3) For the expression or spreading of personal or family circumstances, which was committed as in the item 1, the offender shall not be punished if he proves the truthfulness of his statement, or if he can prove that he had grounds to believe in the truthfulness of what he expressed or spread.
(4) A person shall not be punished if intending to slight another, reproaches him that he has committed some kind of crime, or that he has been sentenced for some kind of crime, in defense of some right or during protection of public interest.
Pronouncing a court reprimand for
crimes from articles 172 to 175
(1) The court may pronounce a court reprimand to the perpetrator of a crime from articles 172 to 175, especially if the offender was provoked with an indecent or rude behavior by the damaged, if he has expressed before the court his readiness to apologize for the crimes from articles 172 items and 2,173 items 1 and 2,174 items 1 and 2,175 items 1and 2 and in the case of the crimes from articles 172 to 175, if he has withdrawn before the court what he has expressed or spread, he may be released from the punishment.
(2) If the insulted person returned the insult, the court may punish both or one side or it may pronounce a court reprimand.
Offending the reputation of
the Republic of Macedonia
A person, who with the intention to ridicule shall publicly make a mockery of the Republic of Macedonia, its flag, arm or anthem, shall be punished with imprisonment of three months to three years.
Ridiculing the Macedonian
people and the nationalities
A person, who with the intention to ridicule shall publicly make a mockery of the Macedonian people and the nationalities, shall be punished with imprisonment of three months to three years.
Offending the reputation of the court
A person who in a procedure before the court ridicules the court, the judge or the jury-judge, or who commits this in a written submitted paper to the court, shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to one year.
Offending the reputation of a foreign state
A person, who with the intention to ridicule shall publicly make a mockery of a foreign state, its flag, arm or anthem, or the head of a foreign state or a diplomatic representative of a foreign state in the Republic of Macedonia, shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to three years.
Offending the reputation of
an international organization
A person, who with the intention to ridicule shall publicly make a mockery of the Organization of the United Nations, the International Red Cross, or some other international organization, or their representatives, shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to three years.
Prosecution for crimes against
the reputation of a foreign state and
an international organization
The prosecution of crimes from articles 181 and 182 is undertaken upon request from the foreign state, respectively the international organization, and after permission from the Minister of Justice.
Prosecution of crimes against
the honor and reputation
(1) The prosecution of crimes from articles 172 to 175 is undertaken upon private suit.
(2) If the crimes from articles 172, 173 and 174 are committed against a deceased person, the prosecution is undertaken upon private suit from the marital partner, the children, parents, brothers or sisters of the deceased person.
(3) If the crimes from article 172, 173 and 174 are committed towards a person who is on the list of candidates, during the elections or directly before the voting, at a time when what was expressed or spread could not be denied publicly, the prosecution is undertaken in line of duty.
Publication of a court sentence
When sentencing a crime perpetrated through the public media, the court shall decide, upon the request from the complainant, that the court sentence or an excerpt from it to be published through the same media, for the account of the condemned.
Unauthorized publication of personal notes
(1) A person who publishes a diary, a letter or some other personal note without the permission from the author, in the cases when such a permission is required, shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to one year.
(2) The prosecution is undertaken upon private suit.
Misuse of personal data
(1) A person who collects, processes or uses personal data from a citizen without his permission, contrary to the conditions determined by law, shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to one year.
(2) The punishment from item 1 shall apply to a person who penetrates a computerized information system of personal data, with the intention of using them in order to attain some benefit for himself or for another, or to inflict some harm upon another.
(3) If the crime from items 1 and 2 is committed by an official person while performing his duty, he shall be punished with imprisonment of three months to three years.
(4) The attempt is punishable.
Unauthorized disclosure of a secret
(1) A lawyer, notary, defense counsel, doctor, midwife or some other health worker, psychologist, religious confessor, social worker or some other person who, unauthorized, discloses a secret he discovered while performing his profession, shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to one year.
(2) The crime from item 1 does not exist if the secret was disclosed in general interest, or in the interest of some other person, when this has higher priority than the interest of keeping the secret.
(3) The prosecution is undertaken upon private suit.
Preventing the printing and
distribution of printed matters
(1) A person, who by force or by serious threat prevents the printing, sale and distribution of books, magazines, newspapers or other printed matter, shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to one year.
(2) The punishment from item 1 shall apply to a person who unlawfully prevents the broadcasting, sale and distribution of recorded material.
Disclosing an official secret
(1) A person who tells, hands over, or in some other manner makes available information to the public or to an unauthorized person, which represents an official secret, or acquires such information with the intention to tell or hand over to the public or to an unauthorized person, shall be punished with imprisonment of three months to five years.
(2) If the crime from item 1 was committed out of self-interest, or for the use of the information abroad, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment of at least one year.
(3) If the crime from item 1 was committed out of negligence, the offender shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to three years.
(4) An official secret is considered to be information or documents which by law, by some other regulation or by decision of a competent authority, passed based on a law, have been declared to be an official secret, and whose disclosure has or could have damaging consequences for the service.
Violation of the confidentiality
of the procedure
A person who without authorization discloses what he found out during a court procedure, or in an administrative, petty offense or disciplinary procedure, when this has been declared a secret by law or by decision of the court or the authority that carries out the disciplinary procedure, shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to one year.
Coercion against a judiciary employee
(1) A person who by force or by serious threat, coerces a judge, a jury-judge, a public prosecutor, a public legal officer, or their deputy, to do, not to do, or to endure something, shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of up to three years.
(2) The attempt is punishable.
DRAFT-LAW ON FREE ACCESS
TO PUBLIC INFORMATION
This law regulates the procedure to exercise the right to free access to public information possessed by state bodies, municipalities bodies and the City of Skopje, public institutions and services, public enterprises, as well as legal entities and natural persons with public authorities, within their public competences regulated by law (herein after referred as the information holders).
The right to free access to information regulated with another law will be realised according to that law, unless it is regulated in another manner with this law.
The Macedonian Government publishes and updates the list of subjects, which possess or for which public information is possessed. The list also determines the public information, which is possessed by the subjects of Paragraph 1 of this Article.
The objective of this law is to provide publicity and openness in the work of the information holders, as well as to enable natural persons and legal entities to exercise the right to access to public information.
The information holders are obliged to enable better informing of the public about their work.
Certain expressions in this law have the following meaning:
information holders are state bodies, bodies of municipalities and the City of Skopje, public institutions and services, public enterprises, as well as legal entities and natural persons, which perform public competences;
public information (herein after referred as the information) is all archived and documented information in any form, assembled by the information holders, or undertaken from another information holder, which the information holder possesses, related to any type of public or administrative function, except for documents in preparation;
information seeker is each natural or legal entity without discrimination on any ground, in way and under conditions regulated with this and other law (herein after referred as the seeker);
document is each record of information regardless of its physical form or characteristic, written or printed text, maps, schemes, photographs, drawings, sketches, working materials, as well as audio, voice, magnetic or electronic, optical or video recordings in any form, as well as movable equipment for automatic data processing with built-in or movable memories for data storage in digital form.
The free access Principle
Free access to information is available to all legal entities and natural persons.
Each seeker on the grounds of a request has the right to access to public information from the information holder through insight, transcript, copy or electronic record.
2. Exception to the free access principle
Information holders can reject a request for access to information, if the information refers to:
data, which on the basis of the law that regulates classified information, is defined as a secret data for the purpose of protecting the state’s defence and security;
data, which is defined as business secret according to the law;
personal data, which revealing would violate the protection of personal data in compliance with the law that regulates the protection of personal data;
data, which refers to individual data of natural persons and legal entities , collected, processed and provided for statistical goals;
data, which in accordance to the law that regulates archive work, is defined as confidential;
data, which providing could violate the confidentiality of tax procedures in compliance with the law;
data acquired or assembled for investigation in the course of criminal or penal procedures, which providing could result in harmful consequences during the process, in compliance with the law;
data, acquired or assembled for the purpose of implementing administrative procedure, which providing could result in harmful consequences during the process;
data acquired or assembled for implementation of a court procedure, which providing could result in harmful consequences during the process;
data, which refers to commercial or other economic interests, including interests of monetary policy;
data from document that is in a process of preparation, and is still subject of accordance with the information holder, which revealing could result in misunderstanding of the content;
data for environment protection, which is in compliance with the law that regulates environment protection, is not accessible to the public for the purpose of protection of human or environmental health;
data, which jeopardises the rights of industrial property (patent, model, goods or service brand, mark of goods’ origin), in compliance with the law;
data from document that was assembled in regard to the internal affairs, i.e. activity of the information holder, which providing could result in harmful consequences in the work and authorities of the information holder.
Public information is accessible only if the part that is not encompassed in Paragraph 1 of this Article.
Information regulated in Paragraph 1 of this Article becomes accessible when the reasons for their inaccessibility cease to exist.
In cases of Paragraph 1 of this Article, information holders cannot refuse to provide information, except if the consequences on the protected interest are not larger than the public interest during publishing.
3. Partial approach
If the document or a section of it partially contains information of Article 5, Paragraph 1 of this law, which can be severed from the document without jeopardizing its confidentiality, the information holder draws the information from the document and notifies the seeker on the content of the rest of the document.
INFORMATION MEDIATION OFFICER
Each information holder determines one or several officials authorised for mediation in exercising the right to free access to information.
Several information holders can jointly determine one or several officials authorised for mediation in exercising the right to free access to information.
OBLIGATIONS OF THE INFORMATION HOLDERS
1. List (catalogue, register) of information
Information holders are obliged to keep track and update public information in the form of register (catalogue), and publish registers (catalogues) with this data, as well as provide the information seeker with an insight to an updated register (catalogue) of public information they possess.
2. Information Mediation
The information holder is obliged to make the following information available to the public:
texts of regulations that refer to the authority of the information holder, related to the register of regulations of the Official Gazette;
programs, strategies, positions, opinions, studies and other similar documents that refer to the authority of the information holder;
draft-programs, strategies, positions, opinions, studies and other similar documents that refer to the authority of the information holder;
all announcements or marketing documents in accordance with the regulations on public procurements;
data on administrative authorities; and other information of public interest.
The information holder is obliged: to provide information on the organisation, authority and expenses of work, as well as the services provided to citizens; to inform the public on its activities; to prepare and issue information bulletins; and
appropriately publish its decisions and measures that influence that life and work of citizens in official publications or at a web site.
Each information holder must enable free access to information of Paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article.
In order to guaranty free access to information, information holders are obliged to:
provide premises for insight of seekers into the requested information;
provide assistance to seekers in the search of information in accordance with this law.
III. PROCEDURE FOR EXERCISING THE RIGHT TO FREE ACCESS TO INFORMATION
1. Oral or written request
The seeker can request access to public information with an oral or written request.
The information is submitted in the requested form, except if the requested information already exists in a previously prescribed form, and is accessible to the public for the one that submitted the request too, and if it is more appropriate to submit the information in a different form than requested, for which the information holder explains the reason.
2. Right to legal protection
The seeker, who submits a written request for access to the public information, has the right to legal protection in accordance with this law.
7. Acting upon the request
If the information holder positively responds to the request, it prepares an official note for it.
If the information holder partially or fully rejects the request, it adopts a written act.
In cases of Paragraph 2 of this Article, the act must contain an explanation on the reasons for rejection of the request.
If the information holder does not enable the seeker access to the information in the deadline regulated in Article 21 of this law, or does not submit to the seeker an act from Paragraph 2 of this Article, the request is considered as rejected.
The information holder is obliged immediately to adopt a decision upon the request of the seeker, and within a 15 (fifteen)-working day deadline at latest from the day of the request’s reception.
12. Request rejection
The information holder can reject the seeker’s request fully or partially, if it determines that the requested data, i.e. document is an exception of Article 5, Paragraph 1 of this law.
If the request refers to information that the holder does not possess, or if the requested information has already been published, the seeker is notified in written.
13. Appeals’ procedure
The seeker has the right to an appeal against the decision and the conclusion, according to which the information holder rejected the request.
The seeker has the right to appeal when the information holder acted according to Article 24, Paragraph 4 of this law.
The State Commission for protection of the right to free access to public information decides upon the appeal.
The appeals’ procedure is implemented according to the law provisions, which regulate general administrative procedures.
IV. STATE COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF THE RIGHT TO FREE ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION
1. Commission’s structure
The State Commission for protection of the right to free access to public information is an independent body, which is authorised to decide on objections against the decision, according to which the information holder rejected the request for access to public information.
V. INFORMING THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION
Information holders acquaint the public with the manner and conditions for access to public information.
Information holders cooperate with the subjects authorised to provide information and the Commission, for the purpose of applying the law provisions and undertaking other activities for urge of the access to public information.
VIII. PENAL PROVISIONS
The information holder will be penalised with a fine of _____to_____ Denar (legal entities and natural persons that perform authorities regulated by law) for destruction of the document, material, file, register, or documented material, which includes the information, with the intention of making it inaccessible for the public.
An individual that destroys the document, material, file, register or documented material, which includes the information, with the intention of making it inaccessible for the public, will be penalised with a fine of Denar 5,000-30,000.
An official at the information holder that destroys the document, material, file, register or documented material, which includes the information, with the intention of making it inaccessible for the public, will be penalised with a fine of Denar 10,000-50,000.
An official for information mediation at the information holder will be penalised with a fine of Denar 20,000-50,000, if it is unlawfully mediated in the envisaged deadline.