The Assembly has initiated the procedure for appointing new Ombudsperson in an exceptionally non-transparent and malevolent manner.
At its 22nd plenary session, from 26.11.2020, the Assembly adopted a Decision to announce an open call for electing an Ombudsperson. Bearing in mind the public interest in electing a Head of the leading national human rights institution, as well as respecting the UN Paris Principles for National Institutions for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and the Venice Commission Principles for Protection and Promotion of the Ombudsperson Institution, the Network for Protection against Discrimination has repeatedly stated that the decision for election of an Ombudsperson should be announced publicly and transparently. Instead, the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia has published its decision in the Official Gazette No. 285 from 30.11.2020 only and in three printed media: Sloboden Pecat, Nova Makedonija and Koha.
Considering the long-lasting trend of abandoning printed media and increased use of electronic media, one concludes that such announcement of the open call had a tendency to inform the public less, and deter potential interested candidates to apply. No major electronic media outlet, including the aforementioned printed media, had published information about the decision for election of an Ombudsperson on their websites. This is especially indicative, as several major media outlets have continuously reported on the need for opening a call for election of a new Ombudsperson. This indicates that the Assembly has failed to inform the media about its decision. The fact that none of the relevant national or international organizations were informed about opening a call for electing new Ombudsperson, neither for the application deadline for candidates, further demonstrates the afore-mentioned statement.
In addition, the manner in which the decision announcing the open call was published on the website of Assembly website was deceiving. All public calls by the Assembly are published on its website under the category “Announcements”. At the moment of writing this reaction, the open call to elect a new Ombudsperson cannot be found under this category, and the decision for the call is found in the Agenda for the 22nd session, published in the “Plenary Sessions” section. Hence, it becomes clear that the purpose of the Assembly is to hide the open call from the public and leave room for political bargaining between parliamentary parties when electing the Ombudsperson.
The Network for Protection against Discrimination condemns also the Members of Parliament who voted for the proposal – decision to open a call for electing a new Ombudsperson, and have failed to inform the public about it, since they were familiar about the manner of announcing the call.
Considering the fact that the open call for election of a new Ombudsperson has already finished, and its announcement violated the principles of publicity, transparency and competitiveness of procedure for election of new Ombudsperson, stipulated by the UN Paris Principles for National Human Rights Institution and the Venice Commission Principles for Protection and Promotion of the Ombudsperson, the Network for Protection against Discrimination demands that the Assembly annuls this call, and to publicly and transparently publish a new call for election of an Ombudsperson.
The Assembly has already used this practice, with the publication of the call for electing members of the Commission for Prevention and Protection against Discrimination. Then, it had annulled the call from June 2019 and announced a new call in December 2019 for election of Commission members.
Our suspicion is that this call was deliberately not disseminated among the public and the Ombudsperson candidate has already been agreed among the political parties. Hence, the promises to depoliticize the society were in vain, especially for creating independent human rights institutions with the mandate to protect citizens’ rights from the state. We ask, how is it possible for a politically appointed candidate to effectively protect the rights of the citizens in case when they are violated by the same government?!
The promise of One society for all remains an empty pre-election statement, unless appropriate professionals are appointed to work towards reform and improvement of key institutions protecting the rights and equality of all citizens. The political appointees in these institutions are initself a clear indicator of the lack of determination to promote and respect the rights of citizens, and the neglect for the country progress. The Ombudsperson is an institution where unprofessional party appointees should be placed the least, and in this way the Constitutional provisions guaranteeing independence of the institution are violated.
 Paris Principles https://nhri.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/ParisPrinciples.aspx
 Principles on the protection and promotion of the Ombudsman institution https://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/default.aspx?pdffile=CDL-AD(2019)005-e
—————————————————24 December 2020