March 10, 2015

Attempts to discredit members of the High School Students’ Plenum

Over the past day the Committee was approached by parents of children and of members of the High School Students’ Plenums who are over 18, whose names and surnames were found on leaflets in the schoolyards of some high schools in Skopje, Kumanovo and Bitola. There is no doubt that this is due to their attempt to form High School Students’ Plenums, and therefore represents a brutal act of suppressing a civil initiative critical toward the Governments’ policies, and consequently an attempt to obstruct the high school students’ right to assembly. The posters allege that the students were receiving money on account of their role as organizers of the protests. Such an act violates the constitutionally guaranteed rights to assembly and to participate in a protests, as well as the honor and dignity of the persons regarding whom false information were presented, and who were thus publicly labeled. We want to emphasize that in the Law on Civil Liability for Libel and Insult it is stated that responsibility for slender assumes that person who relates or spreads false facts harmful to one’s honor and reputation about second person, with determined or obvious identity, before a third person, with intention to harm the second person’s honor and reputation, while at the same time knowing or being obliged and able to know that they are false. Additionally, the act of preventing or obstructing public gathering is a criminal offense.

We want to remind the the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia guarantees freedom of association, as well as the right to hold public gatherings. Moreover, the Constitution guarantees protection in the case when a citizen’s dignity and reputation are violated. Taking in consideration the fact that in this particular case rights of persons under the age of 18 are violated, applicable are also the provisions of the Convention on the Right of the Child. Namely, in Article 14 and Article 15 of the Convention it is stated that children have the right to freedom of though, freedom of association and freedom of peaceful gathering. Upon these rights no limitation may be imposed, except such which are in accordance with the law and are necessarily applied in a democratic society in the interest of national security of public safety, public order, protection of public health or moral, or protection of the rights and freedoms of others. Hence, the institutions should demonstrate that they seriously safeguard these rights, and they must instigate investigation in order to identify the perpetrators, whereby the persons whose rights were violated will be able to initiate or conduct adequate court procedures and receive befitting protection.