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Venice Commission calls on North Macedonia to re-examine new language law and to abandon the provisions on bilingualism in judicial proceedings

Venice 6 December 2019
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Venice Commission calls on North Macedonia to re-examine new language law and to abandon the provisions on bilingualism in judicial proceedings

In its opinion adopted today, the Venice Commission has called on the authorities of North Macedonia to re-examine the Law on the Use of Languages through consultations with all parties concerned.

The Council of Europe’s legal experts underline that in comparison with the 2008 legislation, the new law considerably extends the use of the Albanian language and in many respects goes beyond the European standards set by the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. 

While welcoming the willingness of the authorities to improve the linguistic situation of communities, the Venice Commission finds that in certain areas the new law may go too far by imposing what may prove to be unrealistic legal obligations on the public institutions, in particular concerning the use of Albanian in judicial proceedings, coupled with heavy sanctions in case of non-compliance and the possibility of reversing judicial decisions, if there is the lack of translation and interpretation during the proceedings.

According to the opinion, this approach could significantly slow down the functioning of the entire judiciary, risking serious breaches of the right to a fair trial, guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. The Commission further notes that the language law lacks clarity in terms of which provisions apply only to Albanian and which ones also to other community languages.
The Venice Commission makes several recommendations to the authorities of North Macedonia, especially abandoning the provisions relating to the bilingualism in judicial proceedings. It also recommends that the obligation to use the Albanian language in internal and interinstitutional communication between civil servants be limited to the written official communications or its entry into force be postponed until proper implementation of that provision appears realistic.  
Concerning the enforcement of pecuniary sanctions, the Council of Europe’s legal experts suggest that it should be postponed until the law is amended in order to provide sufficient legal clarity, to reduce the amounts of fines as well as to introduce the element of fault and the principle of proportionality.
The authorities are also invited to carry out an analysis of the enforcement of the 2008 law and the assessment of the budgetary and human resources impact of the new language law.

The full text of the Opinion is expected to be published by the end of the day on Monday, the 9th of December 2019, at the Venice Commission’s website.


Što je Mehanizam za koordinaciju ekspertiza?

Mehanizam za koordinaciju ekspertiza (ECM) je alat putem kojeg Vijeće Europe pruža zakonodavnu ekspertizu i savjete o politikama kao odgovor na konkretne zahtjeve u tematskim područjima: osiguravanje pravde; borba protiv gospodarskog kriminala; borba protiv diskriminacije i zaštita prava ranjivih skupina; sloboda izražavanja i sloboda medija; ustavna pitanja koja spadaju u područje nadležnosti Venecijanske komisije. Ova podrška se pruža u potpunosti poštujući neovisnost i funkcionalne specifičnosti mehanizama praćenja Vijeća Europe i pruža ključnu podršku procesima pridruživanja Europskoj uniji.

 

Tko može podnijeti zahtjev u okviru ECM-a?

Ministri (i drugi članovi vlade) ili predsjednik parlamenta Albanije, Bosne i Hercegovine, Kosova*, Crne Gore, Sjeverne Makedonije, Srbije i Turske mogu podnijeti zahtjev za stručno mišljenje u okviru ECM-a.

Nadalje, posebno za pitanja koja spadaju u područje nadležnosti Venecijanske komisije, Europska unija kao i tijela Vijeća Europe (tj. Glavni tajnik, Komitet ministara, Parlamentarna skupština i Kongres lokalnih i regionalnih vlasti), također, mogu podnijeti zahtjeve za pomoć u okviru ECM-a.

Osim toga, zahtjeve za mišljenje amicus curiae Venecijanske komisije mogu podnijeti i ustavni sudovi.

 Više informacija možete naći u lifletu ECM-a.

*Ovaj naziv je bez prejudiciranja statusa, i u skladu je s Rezolucijom Vijeća sigurnosti Ujedinjenih naroda 1244 i Mišljenjem Međunarodnog suda pravde o Deklaraciji o neovisnosti Kosova.