In partnership with the French Embassy in North Macedonia and the Assembly’s Committee for Equal Opportunities of Women and Men, the panel discussion was organised on 4 November to increase the awareness and facilitate a dialogue on the importance of compensation for the victims of violence, including victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking. This event also served as an opportunity to mark the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe and it was held in the Assembly of North Macedonia in Skopje.
In her welcoming remarks, Daniela Rangelova, the Chair of the Committee for Equal Opportunities of Women and Men, stressed that “Republic of North Macedonia has the legal framework to protect the victims of trafficking according to European standards, especially for detection and identification of victims.”
Ambassador Samuel Zbogar, Head of the EU Delegation in North Macedonia stated that “access to compensation is enshrined in all European instruments and compensation sends a message to the victims that the society recognises their suffering.” French Ambassador H.E. Christian Thimonier emphasised that increased co-operation among the member states is needed in order to tackle the issue and that France will support North Macedonia in its efforts.
Mr Villano Qiriazi, the Council of Europe Special Co-ordinator, mentioned that the Council of Europe’s work on the issue of access to compensation is based on the human rights-based approach to criminal justice. “It is based on the assumption that victims of crimes have a right to justice and that criminal justice serves to redress the wrong done to victims,“ he concluded.
The event was attended by representatives of relevant ministries and institutions, embassies, the European Union Delegation, members of the parliament, civil society organisations as well as other key actors in the anti-trafficking field. The participants had the opportunity to present and discuss specific recommendations for actions and measures to be taken by the authorities to comply with the European standards, in particular the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings and Istanbul convention.
During the panel discussion, Mr Nicola Prokopenko from the Ministry of Justice, presented the Draft Law on the payment of monetary compensation to victims of violent criminal offences. He highlighted that the Draft Law has been prepared by the working group, in which representatives of all relevant ministers, civil society organisations and international experts participated. He stressed out that the Draft Law is based on the international standards and takes into account the victims’ needs and rights, including their right to access to information and compensation. He further highlighted that “the Draft Law is based on two principles, firstly on the principle of solidarity and secondly on the prevention of secondary victimisation by creating a speedy and efficient procedure which prevents any further suffering of the victims during the proceedings.”
The event was organised by the Horizontal Facility Action on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings in North Macedonia and Supporting Enhanced Access to Higher Quaality Free Legal Aid Services in North Macedonia, which are part of the “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey II”, a co-operation initiative co-funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe and implemented by the Council of Europe, which aims at assisting beneficiaries in South-East Europe to comply with the Council of Europe standards and European Union acquis in the framework of the enlargement process.