Corner Press release

The Commission for Protection against Discrimination should alter its practice 28 November 2013

The Commission for Protection against Discrimination does not recognize the discrimination against persons treated for opioid addiction. In the opinion that it adopted after the complaint by the organization HOPS - Healthy Options, the Commission considers that it is neither disturbing nor discriminatory to treat these persons in a degrading manner when they receive health services in the PHI University Dental Clinic. The medical staff at the dentistry clinic discriminates against persons treated for opioid addiction in such a way that before any checks are performed, they instruct them to perform a medical check for Hepatitis C and B and HIV at the Infectious Disease Clinic. Afterwards, the persons that had a positive result received health services in special premises, where other patients are not treated. The dentist and the rest of the medical staff when performing the medical intervention used special protection (two pairs of gloves, special suits with masks and all of the chairs and equipment were covered with a transparent foil).

This so called “protection” is paid by the patients additionally and these costs are not covered by the health insurance. Despite this degrading treatment and different conduct towards persons treated for opioid addiction, the Commission did not establish any discrimination based on the health condition and acted contrary to the Law on Protection of Patients’ Rights, according to which every kind of discrimination in the use of health services is forbidden. 

However, the Commission established that charging for the special protection that the medical staff uses during the intervention is considered to be discriminatory and it places these persons in an unequal position.

The inconsistency in the conduct of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination can be established from the opinion sent to the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, as a response to the complaint against the Ministry for Education and Science, due to the discrimination done on the basis of ethnicity in the schoolbook “Introduction to Nature” published in 2011. Although the Commission in its post stated that there is discrimination, it did not explain where and in what manner was it done, i.e. that the discrimination was done in the abovementioned schoolbook or more specifically in the lesson about the people living in the Republic of Macedonia, the Bosniaks are excluded from the list of peoples living in “our area”.

The Commission also did not establish that it is a matter of continued discrimination due to the fact that the discrimination lasted for a longer period, after the schoolbook was published. In the same opinion the Commission did not include a recommendation to the Ministry of Education for elimination of the discriminatory occurrence which is contrary to the Law on Protection and Prevention of Discrimination and is contrary to the practice of the Commission thus far, which when adopting an opinion for a discriminatory text in another schoolbook it gave precise guidelines about the removal of the content in question. Not giving a recommendation is contrary to the law and the opinion is reduced to a declaration for presence of discrimination, without any effective measures to prevent it.

Additionally, the Commission for Protection against Discrimination on several occasions stopped the procedure for submitted complaints for establishing discrimination on the basis of a marginalized group, i.e. victims of family violence. It did not state regarding any of the cases whether at the moment when the complaint was submitted there was discrimination or not. 

Also, the members of the network gave remarks about the late delays of 1 year and 3 months in the actions of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination. This lack of action by the Commission can be noticed in the complaints against the former Minister for Labor and Social Policy, Spiro Ristovski, the daily newspaper Vecer, the Sitel journalist Aleksandar Spasovski and the chief editor of the daily news on Sitel, Dragan Pavlovik. With these delays the effectiveness of the Protection against Discrimination is questioned. 

The adoption of partial and declarative opinions by the Commission for Protection against Discrimination is unacceptable for the members of the network. The request of the victims of discrimination is not a request for compromise, but for protection against discrimination. The opinions of the Commission represent a source of understanding of the discrimination and therefore they must be comprehensive and adopted in a consistent legal procedure. 

Contact person • Nada Naumovska • ++ 389 (0)2 2477 116

*The network for protection against discrimination aims to develop strategic representation in cases of discrimination by submitting cases in front of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination and in front of the domestic and international courts. The development of the domestic practice is driven by providing free legal assistance in strategic cases of discrimination. The network was established in December 2010 by the following organizations: Foundation Open Society- Macedonia; Association for Health Education and Research (HERA); HOPS- Healthy Options; Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia and the Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women in the Republic of Macedonia (ESE); ROMA S.O.S. Prilep; Coalition “Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities” and the Republic Center for Support of Persons with Intellectual Disability –PORAKA.

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