In a statement made for Telma TV station, the president of the Judicial Council of the Republic of Macedonia, Zoran Karadjovski, criticized the latest report by Reinhard Priebe’s Senior Experts’ Group, which has dedicated a great deal of the remarks to the functioning of the judiciary in the Republic of Macedonia and the Judicial Council as one of the key judicial institutions in the country.
I believe that all of that’s said using political vocabulary, it’s a political interpretation, because of the public. There are no facts, no arguments whatsoever. We know how things are done in this country. And lately, there are also some kind of statements regarding some kind of accountability. Well, nobody can escape accountability, even if one wants to. There are relevant institutions dealing with infringements and criminal activities. Let’s get one thing straight, judges haven’t been amnestied from criminal liability. The judicial immunity in their work and in their verdicts is a different thing altogether…
….Everyone is equal before the law in this country, that’s how I see it….
[Source: Telma; date: 20 September 2017]
The statement of the president of the Judicial Council of the RM, Zoran Karadjovski, which criticizes Priebe’s latest report is untrue, because it’s not based on concrete arguments and contains incorrect assertions. In addition, some stances sound totally unconvincing in a situation when the public was familiarized with the numerous abuses perpetrated by the executive and judicial power, even before European Commission’s Senior Experts’ Group detected them.
Reinhard Priebe’s second report, prepared during the summer and published approximately ten days ago, is actually a sequel of the first report from 2015. After the publication of the wiretapped conversations by the then opposition party SDSM, which revealed plenty of illegally intercepted communications and threw a light on the existing systemic problems in the country, the European Commission (EC) formed a group of independent and experienced legal experts from the areas of the implementation of legislation, communication interception, prosecution and judiciary, human rights and transition reforms, to analyze the situation and give recommendations for overcoming the problems. This expert group is led by EC’s retired director, Reinhard Priebe, hence the name “Priebe’s report”. The report has detected the shortcomings regarding the functioning of the legal state and the societal system in Macedonia and gave guidelines and recommendations for overcoming thereof.
In order to prepare the report, working group’s representatives held meetings with all relevant representatives of the highest state and judicial institutions, as well as with relevant international representatives, the NGO sector, journalists and experts. After the shift of government in the Republic of Macedonia, the need for scanning and evaluating the work of the previous government and laying the foundations for the changes implemented by the new government was imposed.
Furthermore, the government of the Republic of Macedonia has confirmed that the stances and conclusions expressed in Priebe’s report are relevant and grounded, announcing that will use them as direction for upgrading and enhancing the Plan 3-6-9, as well as for determining the priority measures for the upcoming period.
The government believes that Reinhard Priebe’s report on systematic issues regarding the rule of law, published today, paints a realistic picture about the systemic and long-lasting challenges, which led to the “captured state”, that the new government inherited when taking office in June 2017.
The critique comprised in Priebe’s latest report, saying that very little has been done in order to overcome the numerous problems, is spot-on, according to the government:
The government complies with the fact that only a small number of things have been improved in the period 2015-2017 regarding the areas outlined in the report, meaning that Macedonia has lost a great deal of time.
Priebe’s report pays a significant amount of attention to the situation in the Macedonian judiciary, provides in-depth analyses on each detected shortcoming of this system and compares the previous recommendations with the things that have been done. It also says that only one recommendation, out of 12 given in 2015, has been implemented and that
The control and misuse of the judicial system by a small number of judges in powerful positions to serve and promote political interests has not diminished in any significant respect. These judges have continued to bring pressure on their more junior colleagues through their control over the systems of appointment, evaluation, promotion, discipline, and dismissal which have been used to reward the compliant and punish those who do not conform.
However, Priebe’s report underlines that
the problem is not generated primarily by bad laws and legal structures, the laws and structures in place are such that the judicial system could function properly if all the judges acted properly.
It should be emphasized that the experts’ group finds the new government’s announcements for general purge in the judiciary unacceptable. They believe that measures should be undertaken against those who have abused office, but
a general vetting of all judges is not recommended as judicial misbehaviour is by no means universal.
The replacement of one “captured state” with another is unacceptable for the experts:
There is a danger that some in the new government may be tempted, under the excuse of acting against wrongdoers, to replace judges who have misbehaved with others willing to act for them in a similarly unacceptable manner.
By analyzing Priebe’s report, we’ve found out that nothing leads to the conclusion that “there are no facts, no arguments whatsoever” and that its content uses political vocabulary i.e. it’s “politically interpreted because of the public”, as Karadjovski stated.
His stance is probably spurred by the fact that Priebe’s report recommends a complete review of Judicial Council’s work, whose head is Karadjovski, and de-politicization thereof.
Still, it won’t do any harm if we remind that the abuses and interference of the executive power and specific centers of power in the Republic of Macedonia had been distorting the judiciary from its lawful bedrock, something that was rather directly presented to the public through the recordings published by the opposition in the spring of 2015. Thanks to these recordings, the public was able to hear about rigged court rulings upon the request of Ministers and party strongmen, judges who submissively cooperate with the government, and were later awarded with offices, reelection for offices, privileges.
Therefore, Karadjovski’s statement that justice is equal for all in Macedonia is unconvincing, to put it mildly:
We know how things are done in this country. And there are also some kind of statements lately regarding some kind of accountability. So, nobody can escape accountability even if one wants to…
.…Everyone is equal before the law in this country, that’s how I see it.…
Because, the public even without the published recordings, which, it is fair to say, played a crucial role, was able understand that plethora of people have been violating the laws and the moral code in the Republic of Macedonia and have been avoiding accountability for their actions on a large scale. Ergo, taking into account all of the aforementioned, Karadjovski’s statement is undoubtedly an untruth.
- Telma TV station, 20 September 2017: Караџовски тврди дека во Македонија правдата е еднаква за сите [Accessed on 25 September 2017]
- The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Assessment and recommendations of the Senior Experts’ Group on systemic Rule of Law issues 2017 [Accessed on 25 September 2017]
- Plusinfo, 19 June 2015: Извештај на експертската група на ЕК нотира сериозни недостатоци (ИНТЕГРАЛНО) [Accessed on 25 September 2017]
- Nova Makedonija, 15 September 2017: Владата го поздрави извештајот на Прибе [Accessed on 25 September 2017]
- Deutsche Welle, 15 September 2017: Прибе: Eдна форма на заробена држава не смее да се замени со друга [Accessed on 25 September 2017]
- Truthmeter, 06 July 2016: Нов политички дискурс во одбрана на „тефтер-судството“ [Accessed on 25 September 2017]
Assessed by: Jugoslava Dukovska