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The Network for Protection against Discrimination presented the study of the impact that the measures for dealing with Covid-19 have on the human rights of marginalized communities “Human rights of marginalized communities in conditions of Covid-19”. Field research was conducted among marginalized communities: Roma, sex workers, people living with HIV, people using drugs, women victims of domestic violence and LGBTI people. The report covers several areas, such as the impact of travel bans and restrictions, the right to education, access to justice, social protection and the impact of economic measures.

The obligation of the state towards the marginalized communities during the pandemic is, on the one hand, to protect the health of these communities, and on the other hand, the state has an obligation to adopt measures that will prevent further impoverishment and marginalization of vulnerable communities due to the crisis, through a disproportionate effect of restrictions on the rights of these groups as opposed to the general population. The disproportionate effect on marginalized communities from pandemic management measures can also mean indirect discrimination by failing to meet the specific needs of these communities. Hence, the pandemic brings to the surface the systemic problems of social exclusion, limited access to justice and public services, inadequate protection against discrimination and violence, with which these communities continue to live.

Key findings under different areas reveal systemic shortcomings in the system of social protection and education, inadequate planning of economic measures that largely do not meet the needs of citizens and do not contribute to overcoming the unfavorable economic situation. The specific needs of women and LGBTI youth, victims of domestic violence and sex workers and poor citizens earning a living in the informal economy on a daily basis were not taken into account when adopting the restrictive measure to ban and restrict movement. Access to justice was further hampered, while the need for urgent procedures to protect victims of gender-based violence was ignored. The social protection system has identified a number of shortcomings related to low capacity and inadequate solutions to meet the needs of marginalized groups.

Associations of the Network for Protection against Discrimination during the crisis, quickly adapted to the emerging needs, worked in the field to meet the needs of marginalized communities, offered services for free legal aid, humanitarian aid, information to improve access to social and health services and sought to advocate for the needs of the institutions.

We convey the key recommendations of the report in full, in addition to this announcement.

The report was prepared within the project “Network for Protection against Discrimination – Promoting Equality by Monitoring and Strengthening the System for Prevention and Protection against Discrimination” funded by the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia. Authors of the report are: Nataša Boškova, Darko Antič, Rosana Bogatinova and Margarita Gliguroska. The editor of the report is Dragana Drndarevska. The report can be found at the following link.

The key findings of the report are also presented in infographics available at the following link.


Recommendations regarding the ban and restriction of movement:

– When making a decision to ban movement, the Government should especially take into account the needs of the most marginalized communities and create exceptions based on them;

– The ban on movement should be introduced as a last resort, only when the transmission of the virus gets out of control and there is a serious threat of overloading the health system;

– Training and effective control of the police for the implementation of this measure, especially when the citizens use the exceptions provided by the Government;

– Reduced timetable of public transport must not be introduced in the hours when the citizens are allowed to move;

– In case of introduction of a ban on movement, appropriate solutions for housing and access to subsistence conditions for the homeless and people staying in makeshift dwellings should be find.


Recommendations regarding education in Covid-19 conditions:

– The complete closure of schools should be used as a final measure and should be implemented for a certain period of time, while the threat of escalation of the situation lasts. In conditions where the situation does not escalate and there is no overload of the health system, more appropriate solutions should be found, which will not affect the quality of education, such as multi-shift work, strict control over compliance with preventive measures, reducing the number of hours and similar;

– Members of the most marginalized communities should be financially supported for the provision of means for electronic communication, as well as a stable internet connection, for uninterrupted attendance of classes. For those students for whom conditions cannot be created quickly, the attendance in the teaching in the schools, with strict observance of the preventive measures should be ensured;

– Reforming the education system, by modernizing the learning methods that will correspond to the modern trends of using internet technologies and digitalization in education, stimulating independent learning and research;

– Reforming education by introducing content that will change and strengthen students’ democratic values, increase independence, curiosity and empathy;

– Finding ways to support the parents of younger students by the school in conditions when teaching takes place remotely;

– Continuous investment in the capacities of the educational staff, but also consistent implementation of a merit-based system in the employment, promotion and sanctioning of teachers and professional associates;

– Continuous investment in the capacities of the educational staff, but also consistent implementation of a merit-based system in the employment, promotion and sanctioning of teachers and professional associates;

– Improving the technical and spatial capacities of the schools by providing an appropriate platform for online teaching and assessment, which will be easily applicable to all, as well as establishing an equal and efficient way of assessment.


Recommendations regarding social protection in times of crisis:

– Improving the communication of the employees in the centers for social work with the citizens, and especially improving their availability for communication in conditions of crisis and emergency;

– Reforming the social protection system through its orientation towards the needs of the citizens and solving their problems;

– The decisions on submitted requests for financial benefits from social protection should be made within the legal deadlines for decision-making, i.e. the procedures should not be delayed;

– Inclusion in the system of social protection of single-parent families and victims of domestic violence who leave the violent environment in times of crisis, by opening accessible and quality specialized services for victims of gender-based violence;

– Providing publicly available information on the rights of citizens in times of crisis, adapted to people with sensory disabilities, in the languages ​​of all communities and in a language understandable to all citizens;

– The measures taken by the state in times of crisis, which relate to the provision of subsistence needs (assistance in food and hygiene products), should include citizens who are not beneficiaries of social benefits, and need assistance due to reduction of income;

– Reforming the social protection system through clear, fair, fast and transparent activities to improve social protection rights;

– To provide the necessary documents for exercising the rights arising from social protection in conditions of crisis, exclusively for official duty;

– Continuous investment in specialized institutions for social and health care, as well as subsequent management of the system based on employment services, promotion and sanctioning.


Recommendations regarding access to justice in times of crisis:

– In addition to general measures, the Government should adopt specific measures to improve access to justice for individual marginalized communities, taking into account their vulnerability during the state of emergency;

– The competent institutions (courts, center for social work, health institutions, etc.) to provide clear guidelines for the implementation of measures and the manner in which citizens can exercise their right in emergency conditions;

– The Judicial Council to recognize the procedures for protection of the victims of domestic violence as urgent for the duration of the state of emergency;

– Competent institutions to develop alternative models for assistance to women, children and adults suffering from violence during an emergency;

– The Government to provide financial support to organizations that provide assistance and support to marginalized communities at the lowest level;

– The government to encorporate mechanisms for transparency and accountability in the decision-making process related to dealing with the pandemic.


Recommendations regarding economic measures in times of crisis:

– Involvement of citizens and associations in the preparation of economic measures that will ensure a wide range of citizens, with a focus on those from vulnerable groups;

– Preparation of economic measures that will be individualized and will meet the specific needs of the citizens, and through the criteria for their use to ensure that the measures do not exclude a certain group;

– Carrying out evaluation of all measures envisaged so far in terms of their impact on citizens and making a plan for their improvement in order to achieve maximum effects;

– Carrying out an assessment of the damages caused by the inappropriately set measures, ie from the prepared measures that do not meet the needs of the citizens;

– Promoting transparency, by preparing monthly reports on program and financial implementation, including publicly published and available reports;

– Taking steps to set a continuous, flexible and scalable amount of financial assistance provided to citizens and based on the financial power of one household instead of one person;

– In addition to increasing the amount of financial assistance, it is necessary to provide a wider range of products and services that could be procured, including medicines;

– Carrying out an assessment of the needs of the citizens of non-financial nature, and depending on their priorities, preparing measures for their solution. For example, instead of a tourism voucher, provide accommodation and employment for women victims of domestic violence;

– Continuous collection of relevant data by the State Statistical Office, on the basis of which the economic measures should be adopted;

– Introducing procedures for reporting and resolving cases in which citizens face difficulties in accessing economic measures, live and on the website finansiskatransparentnost.koronavirus.gov.mk by adding a special section for consultations and reporting difficulties.


14 June 2021