On 21 October 2020, a session of the Committee on European Affairs and the Legislative Committee of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia was held, on the agenda of which was the Draft-Law on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination, more precisely its second reading and consideration of the submitted amendments. None of the submitted amendments was adopted. One of the amendments was the amendment to Article 18 submitted by MPs Maja Moracanin and Miroslav Bogdanovski, which was advocated by the Network for Protection against Discrimination.
The Network for Protection against Discrimination received with disappointment the news that the amendment to Article 18 has not been adopted and strongly condemns the decision of the MPs from the government not to support it. The amendment to Article 18 regulates the election of the members of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination, whose aim is to ensure the independence of the Commission, a transparent and inclusive selection procedure that is in line with all international standards and recommendations, as well as the opinion of the Venice Commission.
The question of why the ruling coalition parties are bothered by a more transparent way of electing and appointing members of the Commission for Prevention and Protection against Discrimination (CPPD) remains unanswered, given that DOM MPs and opposition MPs have recognized and supported the need to change Article 18, whose decision we welcome.
The Article 18 that we proposed was first accepted and proposed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, but the Government rejected and submitted the Draft Law with the same text that was adopted in 2019 without giving an explanation, a decision we also strongly condemned.
As a Network, we have sent a request to all MPs to propose and support an amendment to Article 18 which will regulate the procedure following the example of the procedure for the election of members of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption. Additionally, the Network for Protection against Discrimination submitted a request for public discussion to the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia. The Committee on European Affairs, together with the Committee on Equal Opportunities, organized a meeting with the associations regarding the Law on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination on 20 October 2020, where the Network for Protection against Discrimination, other associations and experts in the field argued the need for amending Article 18.
We proposed this amendment because the previous composition of the Assembly failed to elect members of the CPPD, and the media reported that the parties could not reach a party agreement in the Committee on Elections and Appointments.
We fear that the non-adoption of the amendment to Article 18 will confirm our suspicions and the election of the members of the CPPD will depend on the party agreement, and not on the quality and merits of the candidates because citizens’ associations and the media will not be able to participate directly in the election procedure.
We ask the MPs to adopt the Law on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination and to elect the members of the CPPD as soon as possible, in a way that will deny our suspicions and will elect professional members of the Commission who have experience, knowledge and commitment to non-discrimination and protection of human rights, and not party cadres.