Important parts of the Special Public Prosecutor Office’s Report, which are scrutinized by the Parliament and the Council of the Public Prosecutors this week, have already been confirmed by the European Union and the European Parliament. They relate to the politically motivated decisions by the prosecution and judiciary bodies, and in those parts of the report corruption and selective justice via dereliction of duty and authority are especially apostrophized.
Author: Teo Blazhevski
The first Special Public Prosecutor Office’s Report (SPPO) which was presented to the public last week and forwarded both to the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia and the Council of the Public Prosecutors, showed that plenty of the state institutions obstruct the work of Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva and that she struggles to cooperate with the prosecution and judiciary institutions.
This report will be reviewed by the Council of the Public Prosecutors and the Parliament this week. However, at the very beginning, it is obvious that there are “communication” problems. The Council of the Public Prosecutors already announced that Janeva “has shown disrespect” and that the Report “contains vagueness”, and once again called her to attend the Council’s meeting on Wednesday.
On the other hand, the Report should be discussed in the Parliament, by the appropriate Parliamentary Committies and in a plenary session by the end of this week.
Regardless the outcome of those sessions, it is a fact that many important parts of this Report are already contained in the Progress Report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by the European Commission (EC) and in other documents of the EU bodies and institutions. The last confirmation was seen in parts of the European Parliament Resolution on the 2015 Report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, adopted by the European Parliament on 10 March 2016.
EP: THE SPECIAL PUBLIC PROSECUTOR OFFICE SHOULD NOT BE HINDERED
Let’s bring a part of Janeva’s Report to mind which states that the institutions in the country are highly uncooperative, and according to the Law on Functioning of the Special Public Prosecutor Office, they ought to cooperate:
Namely, the disregard of the Public Prosecutor Offices in Republic of Macedonia of my request for the delivery of only five cases and the delivery of all cases contained in the statistical analysis of the Public Prosecutor Office of the Republic of Macedonia, is disrespect of the work dynamics and the autonomy of this Special Public Prosecutor Office. Furthermore, these same Public Prosecutor Offices afterwards refused to cooperate with this Special Public Prosecutor Office and they refused to deliver cases for inspection without having any legal grounds for that, namely they generally refused to deliver the cases I have requested with the aim to assess the real jurisdiction of this Special Public Prosecutor Office.
In her Report, Janeva also complained about the Criminal Court in Skopje, especially about the request to receive evidence from several of the cases which previously were in the hands of the Special Public Prosecutor Office for Organized Crime:
The Basic Court Skopje 1 did not refer evidence to this Special Public Prosecutor Office as authorized plaintiff, which caused procrastination of the start of the main court debate about the case, familiar to the public as “Putsch” (by refusing to obey the rules of the interinstitutional cooperation, regulated by Article 81 from the Law on Criminal Procedure and to provide evidence copies of the case to this Special Public Prosecutor Office). The situation is the same when this Special Public Prosecutor Office requests an inspection of archived cases. There was inappropriate behavior of other institutions and bodies in regard to the requests and deadlines set by the Special Public Prosecutor, and they did not obey those requests and deadlines, as well.
These assertions in Janeva’s Report are on a daily basis denied by part of the media, by the aforementioned institutions and by the governing party, which does not refrain from proclaiming Janeva an extension of Zoran Zaev and SDSM. However, the European institutions can see the obstructions and urge the stakeholders to end such behavior. In the aforementioned EP Resolution from 10 March 2016, one week before the publication of Janeva’s Report, Article 7 states:
“Considers it essential for the democratic process that the Special Prosecutor be given full support to fulfil her agreed functions and maintain full autonomy, and all resources required to investigate any wrongdoings arising from the wiretaps;
Calls for an end to obstructions in the courts against referring evidence to the Special Prosecutor, and for support for amendments to the law in order to ensure her autonomous authority as regards witness protection with respect to the cases for which her office is responsible.”
Evidently, the EP, in its Resolution preamble, referes to several documents and reports from the European Commission from the second half of 2015, and places Priebe’s report among them. Additionally, it found courts that were clearly obstructive and unwilling to amend the laws that would allow Janeva to work with the protected witnesses in a more secure and facile manner.
In fact, Janeva requested law amendment even before the EP’s resolution, by delivering an urgent Law amendment request, and also offered a prepared draft law, after her calls for the government, the Ministry of Justice or some of the MPs to do so, remained unanswered.
SELECTIVE JUSTICE VIA “DERELICTION OF DUTY”
There is one more part of the Resolution that is in line with Janeva’s Report, and it can be interpreted not only as a confirmation, but also as EP’s help for the SPPO, because it makes reference to court depoliticization and condemnation of selective justice, especially by “dereliction of duty and authority”. Moreover, the dereliction is especially apostrophized in the appropriate Article in the Law on Criminal Procedure.
Article 353 from the Criminal Code defines the “dereliction of duty and authority” and elaborates the sentences for this offence. The sentences are from a 6 months to 5 years of imprisonment, if the offence is perpetrated by performing public procurement activities and to the detriment of the Budget of RM.
Article 14 from the Resolution states:
“Notes the well-established legal framework and earlier measures as regards judicial reform, but deplores the cases of selective justice, particularly through the misuse of Article 353 of the Criminal Code; calls once again for political will to depoliticise the appointment and promotion of judges and prosecutors and to ensure the professionalism and independence of the Judicial Council; (…); calls for the preparation and proper consultation of stakeholders on a new 2015-2020 Judicial Reform Strategy and action plan.”
Accidentally or not, the SPPO’s Report for the first six months of its work stated that an investigation procedure has been initiated for 30 cases against 80 persons, whereupon, most of them (37), are suspected of dereliction of duty and authority, and also, a large number of offences are related to election criminal and scams.
The EP’s Resolution covers other items that directly or indirectly point out to the hindrances that Janeva faces, as in Article 11, which relates to the enormous politicization in public administration, hence the ability of the parties in power to obstruct, but also to the widespread corruption, particularly in state and local administration (Resolution Article 19), whereupon urges the government to fight corruption in a non-selective manner, especially through “the adoption of the Law on Whistleblower Protection in November 2015 and urges the authorities to ensure its implementation in line with European standards”, which is also related to the work of the SPPO.