December 25, 2012

Attack on the constitutional order of the Republic of Macedonia

The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia is greatly concerned about the latest political events in the country. Representatives of the Committee on 24.12.2012, during the protest of the “People’s Front” on one side, and supporters and members of the opposition on the other side, since its very beginning followed the happenings in the capacity of observers with regard to the respect of rights and freedoms of citizens during peaceful assembly.

The Committee strongly condemns the violence and hate speech, present during the assembly, which resulted in physical injuries of citizens. Although police officers, for most of the time performed their duty professionally, in a number of cases disproportionate use of physical force against citizens who broke the police cordon was noted. Additionally, two citizens were selectively arrested and unneeded coercive measures were taken against them.

Furthermore, after receiving an information by the media that violence against opposition MP’s is taking place in the parliamentary hall, Committee representatives entered the Parliament and witnessed visibly upset and weeping MP’s whose clothes were torn. One of the MP’s was unconscious, while other MP’s were in need of medical attention and were rapidly taken out of the Parliament building.

Immediately after these unpleasant events the parliamentary debate on the state budget proposal for 2013 commenced due to which Committee representatives headed to the Parliament’s gallery in order to observe the plenary session. This was not allowed neither to us nor to the journalists who were forcibly removed from the gallery.

The Helsinki Committee ascertains, with great concern, that these actions constitute an attack on the constitutional order of the Republic of Macedonia and that they represent an unseen and frightening precedent contrary to the principles of the rule of law. Particularly concerning are the statements of the opposition MP’s that they have been violently removed from the Parliament hall by members of special police units.

The Committee notes that according to the Rules of Parliamentary Procedure, the President of the Parliament, with a view of preservation of the order, may issue an order for removal of one MP, but not of whole parliamentary groups. In cases in which order can not be preserved, the President should first of all warn an MP twice, and if that does not contribute to the observance of order, call for a short brake of the session.

The Helsinki Committee made audio and video recordings from the described events which will be presented to the public in a form of a special report.