European network of legal experts in the non-discrimination field
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The information contained on this page represents the situation as of 1 January 2014 and is a summary of the country report produced by the country expert from the network. The summary can be downloaded here as well.

Biljana Kotevska

Country context

Macedonia (FYR)[1] is a South-East European (SEE) land-locked multi-ethnic country. It became an independent republic in 1991 with the dissolution of Yugoslavia. It is a candidate for European Union membership since 2005, and holds a conditional invitation to join the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization since 2008. Membership in these two organizations is formally still a foreign affairs priority for the country, however the NATO membership option is frozen pending settlement of the name dispute, as is opening of negotiations with the EU, resulting in an apparent decline of public support for both processes. Domestic priorities, of relevance here, are implementation[2] of the Ohrid Framework Agreement,[3] lowering unemployment[4] and fight against poverty.[5]

Main principles and definitions

The Anti-discrimination Law contains definitions of direct and indirect discrimination; harassment, instructions to discriminate andvictimisation. Compared to the Directives, the definition of direct discrimination is unnecessarily more complicated, whereasthe one on indirect discrimination is fully replicated. It contains an article on harassment and on sexual harassment, as well as a separate article on discrimination of people with disability. Multiple discrimination is foreseen as a grave form, as are alsorepeated and extended discrimination. The law also has a provision on inciting and encouraging discrimination. There isno provision on discrimination by association.

Enforcing the law

According to the Constitution, citizens are entitled to bring a case for protection of fundamental rights and freedoms to regular courts in a prompt procedure. However, in practice, although invocations of the procedures have been made, the Constitutional court has been very reluctant in acting upon cases in relation to discrimination i.e. to citizens’ rights and freedoms cases in general.

Main legislation

The “Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia”[1] is a written constitution and the country’s highest act. It accepts international law as part of domestic law, making international law higher than domestic laws and bylaws. The Constitution provides for protection against discrimination. It upholds equality of the citizens before the Constitution and before law, stating that citizens of the Republic of Macedonia are equal in their freedoms and rights, regardless of gender, race, colour, national and social origin, political and religious conviction, property and social status. Itforesees a protection mechanism for all who find their Human Rights and freedoms breached, in front of the Constitutional court. Upholding the monism principle on application of international law (the signed and ratified international documents),the Constitution provides for the domestic use of these documents, thus also for those providing for protection against non-discriminationand/or upholding the principle of equality.

Material scope

Anti-discrimination Law is applicable to both the private and public sector and applies to all fields. The law notes that specific attention should be paid to the fields of employment and working relations; membership of and involvement in trade unions, political parties, NGOs, foundations, and other membership organisations; social security, including social protection, pensions and disability insurance; health insurance and healthcare; education; access to goods and services; and housing. Thus, this law goes beyond the Directives.Other laws also include discrimination provisions, defining the material scope. All of them relate it to both the public and private sector, save the Law on Ombudsperson which providesprotection againstdiscrimination only in the public sphere.

Equality bodies

Anti-Discrimination Law provided for the establishment of the first equality body in the country - CPAD. Itsmembers were elected in December 2010, and it startedfunctioning in 2011. The CPAD works on cases of discrimination covered by the Anti-discrimination law. These grounds are: sex, race, colour of skin, gender, belonging to a marginalised group, ethnicity, language, citizenship, social origin, religion or religious belief, other sorts of belief, education, political affiliation, personal or social status, mental or physical disability, age, family or marital status, property ownership, health condition, or any other ground stipulated in law or a ratified national treaty. The CPAD received 84 cases in 2013 (compared to 77 in 2012, and 60 cases in 2011).

Go to the European Commission - Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities This initiative is financed by the EC Programme Progress. But the views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect the official views of the EU institutions.