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Macedonia: Parliament spends 5 minutes on adopting amendments to the Surveillance Law

The amendments to the Law on communications monitoring were easily
adopted during yesterday’s parliamentary session. For several months,
the expert public – part of which is close to the opposition, has been
criticizing that the police competences are being drastically
increased, allowing human rights violation.

Nevertheless, the amendments were adopted with eighty-one votes in favour and only fifteen votes against.

“We will not vote for this law, since it is counterconstitutional and it raises human rights issues. We would become a police state if we adopt these amendments”, said MP Marjancho Nikolov, speaking on behalf of SDSM’s parliamentary group. He did not make any announcements that SDSM would submit a petition to the Constitutional court. So far, the experts did not say anything about the alleged violation of the Constitution. In fact, they focused on the human rights violation, extended competences and the easy abuse.

The draft-law for amending the Law on communications monitoring comprises several precedents and exceptions, that are seriously entering the sphere of endangering human rights and going further than all the known laws in this sphere in the democratic states, if we exclude the American laws adopted after September 11, 2001 – believes Slagjana Taseva, the former Police Academy director.

Nikola Popovski, the former minister of finance and vice president of SDSM criticized the advisor Monika Makovey, the proposer of these amendments.

With this kind of a government, even Mrs. Makovey will lose the precious reputation that she has acquired in her country and in Europe in the fight against corruption – believes Popovski.

Ljubomir Frchkoski, on the other hand, commented on the control of privacy.

“The new concept of wiretapping people’s phones for banal criminal acts creates the legal basis for the extension of privacy control, proposed by aunty Makovey, and the logistics for this concept is the new gigantic budget for the Security and Counter-Intelligence Directorate with the fantastic 25 million Euros, instead of the previous 400 thousand”, wrote Frchkoski in his column.

Yesterday, the prosecutors and the investigative judges were not in the mood to comment on the amendments, since they were still not familiarized with the Law.

However, some of them, speaking anonymously, said that the amendments to the Law on communications monitoring are just a continuation of the already adopted amendments to the Law on criminal procedure, to be more precise – the amendments to articles 146 and 156 from this law, for which the parliament voted in July this year.

This will be a great burden for us, since we will have to decide based on the information from the MOI, that do not even have to be supported by evidence. For instance, if the phone of a mayor should be wiretapped upon a declaration to the police that he is abusing his position, then… “This would be a lot of fun”. First, we would have to establish that there is absolutely no other way of collecting evidence for the crime, and afterwards issue a warrant, that will always be subject to fierce criticism for political abuse. If we should monitor the communication of a person that is already a criminal perpetrator, the wiretapping warrant is issued by an investigative judge. If the person is unknown, then the public prosecutor is the one that decides about the communications monitoring. It is projected that if the wiretapping does not result with information within 6 months, the recorded materials should be destroyed in front of the person that was wiretapped – says a judge from Skopje.

Source: Nova Makedonija "Parliament spends 5 minutes on adopting amendments to the Surveillance Law" September 3, 2008

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