INTERVIEW / Renata Deskoska: The process of reforms is slow, but it is in accordance to European principles
By Ivana Ramadanova
Inbox7: 2018 is already behind us. How would you rate it and how well have you, as Minister, managed to make some changes in terms of realization of citizens’ rights and judicial reform?
Renata Deskoska: In 2018 we put the foundation of what was to be adopted, made and delivered in 2019. We entered into a serious effort to develop legal texts and some of them were completed by the end of the year, some of them released by parliamentary procedure, some of them are released now, this month, in order to get a recommendation for negotiations in June. After a long time we managed to harmonize the law on courts with the recommendations of the Venice Commission and to receive acknowledgement that the law is fully in line with European standards. An entirely new Law on Judicial Council has been prepared, we have drafted a law on offenses that practically reduces the penalties and introduces admonition as an initial pre-punishment which is a great advantage and relief for both the citizens and the business entities, we have drafted and put into proceedings a law on administrative disputes which should reduce citizens waiting at the doors of administrative judiciary and playing ping pong with the institutions. In the meantime, the enforcement law was adopted in the Parliament, which reduced the costs for enforcement proceedings, laws were passed enabling judicial officers not to be discriminated against judges, thus setting the grounds for a better status of citizens in certain procedures and of course I expect the Parliament to adopt these laws in the part of judiciary as well as the law on prevention of corruption that is a key law in the fight against corruption in the near future.
Inbox7: Why is the process of judicial reform so slow and when can citizens expect effective judiciary?
Renata Deskoska: I would not say that reforming is taking place slowly, but it is certainly happening according to European principles. We want every law that will be passed to comply with the standards of the European Union because it is practically what we will have in the future. But the behavior of the judges themselves is what should practically be followed so that the citizens will need to personally feel during the court proceedings. Here, I expect the greatest effect to be given by the Law on Judicial Council, where principles of responsibility are already established for the members of the Judicial Council, and of course clear procedures for judges’ responsibility.
Inbox7: Who proposed and then withdrew the Request for amendment of the Criminal Law Article 353 in the Parliament?
Renata Deskoska: The Government did not have a proposal for amendments to Article 353. Probably in Parliament, in an attempt to find a bigger consensus in that reconciliation body, there were conversations and deliberations, but it is a fact that the Parliament did not pass a law that would amend that Article.
Inbox7: Have your Hungarian counterparts responded to Gruevski’s extradition, and are you planning to urge to speed up his extradition?
Renata Deskoska: No, we do not have a reply yet, but we are waiting in the deadlines for decency to get a notification. If we do not receive one within a certain time period, we will react again. But on one occasion I already stressed that we should be aware that this is a political battle, much more than legal one.
Inbox7: What about the request for extradition of Grujovski and Boshkovski, the two suspects by Kosovo for the Monster case, as well as for Daravelski?
Renata Deskoska: Regarding the extraditions from Greece we received a correspondence that practically followed the verdict of the Supreme Court of Greece. We have now renewed the request, but we have not received an answer to that yet. Regarding Monster we have also sent a request and an urgent request, for Daravelski also a request and an urgent request, but we have not received a response in either of the cases.
Inbox7: Will Macedonia receive an anti-corruption commission before the presidential elections?
Renata Deskoska: We make every effort for that. We even put the law in the Parliament, we accorded it with the European Commission, then we went with a law by short procedure. But no matter how much we want to pass the law, which will be fully accepted, we cannot accept amendments that mean reducing the competencies of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption. The government has adopted a law with the European flag, it has been launched in a parliamentary procedure, efforts have been made to discuss it with the European delegation, but also with VMRO DPMNE and if they are not fruitful in order to withdraw the amendments which are not in accordance with the European Commission standards, in that case we will have the procedure with the European flag.
Inbox7: How do you as a citizen feel as in judiciary there are still judges whose names were mentioned in the bombs?
Renata Deskoska: I am really unpleasantly surprised or maybe not so surprised, but I really expected at least the Judicial Council to discuss that report and take some measures. Given that there was no reaction and, on the other hand, the Judicial Council is very punctual for paying allowances and salaries, even in certain cases salaries were paid to them when they were not to get any, but when they need to take some certain steps of responsibility, they are quiet, we are therefore going to proceed in a procedure with a law that will establish mechanisms for accountability of the Judicial Council.
Inbox7: Will anyone be held responsible for the scandal in the Academy on electing judges and prosecutors?
Renata Deskoska: As far as I am informed, the prosecution has launched an investigation, but I have not been informed on the results of the investigation, so I expect that they will implement it because it was about falsification of documents, and it is a criminal act.
Inbox7: Prosecutor Vilma Ruskoska and the head of the Skopje prosecutor’s office pointed out that they lacked money and staff for prosecuting crime more effectively. Are you familiar with this problem?
Renata Deskoska: One of the priorities of the Ministry is the establishment of investigative centers in the prosecutor’s offices in order to have a serious fight against corruption. Some job advertisements are already in the courts, I think that in the prosecutor’s offices, too and that is a process that we need to continue because staffing is important, but of course that establishment of investigative centers is also important because they practically give us food for the investigations of public prosecutors.
Inbox7: In what way is it expected the other charges of the SJO to be processed?
Renata Deskoska: My opinion is that the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office was formed in an extremely difficult period when Macedonia was facing big problems, but that institution showed that it can function in such an environment. Bearing in mind that we have a political culture that we can not immediately eradicate, the dangers that existed during the establishment of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office can occur at any time in the future and for that reason I think that it should continue to work. At the moment, we are making an attempt to define the competences of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office that will be permanent and make a distinction of the competence of the public prosecutor’s office from organized crime in order both to be able to function and be effective.