April 5, 2013

Dicriminated persons do not receive timely protection

The Network for Protection against Discrimination* at this moment has 14 active cases that are submitted to the Commission for Protection against Discrimination (The Commission), out of which in as much as 8 cases the deadline of 3 months has expired in which the Commission should determine whether there is discrimination. The deadline for taking action will expire in one week in the rest of the 6 active cases managed by this network, as well. This condition of ineffective work of the Commission creates dilemmas in terms of the effectiveness of the mechanisms which should protect the citizens when they are discriminated.

One of the oldest cases that this network has initiated before the Commission is the case of segregation of Roma students in Bitola. Although the complaint about this case was submitted in April 2011, the Commission even after two years has not declared whether the transfer of Roma children in the primary school “Gjorgji Sugarev” in Bitola, with the explanation that there is no room for them in the primary schools in which they first applied, represents a form of discrimination.

Furthermore, it is indicative that the Commission has not spoken out about the two active cases against the daily newspaper “Vecer”, about which the network through its complaints indicates that a homophobic editorial policy is led by this newspaper, which according to the network results in harassment as a form of discrimination. Also, the Commission after almost a year has not acted upon the complaint against Sitel for publication of an article which discriminates the persons with homosexual orientation.

As opposed to this unresponsive policy towards the complaints for homophobic content in the Macedonian media broadcasting, the Commission in 2011 almost immediately rejected the complaint against “Vecer” because the deadline for submitting a complaint has expired. This decision goes against the case with homophobic content in the Pedagogy textbook, which the Commission handled and gave its opinion that there is discrimination with the explanation that although the deadline has expired, the text in question is still active and causes discrimination. Therefore the Commission does not lead a unified and continuous policy in terms of respecting deadlines and application of the law.

The deadlines for determining whether there is discrimination have also expired in the cases which the network initiated against four health institutions. Four persons had difficulties to exercise their health rights, and the persons had their personal integrity violated, due to their ethnicity, addiction to opiates and their health – HIV virus carrier.

The discrimination against marginalized communities and against citizens in general, may have great consequences on the manner in which they exercise their rights, as well as consequences on the quality of life in general. For this reason the Commission for Protection against Discrimination should handle complaints effectively and in a timely manner and in that way it should decrease the damages of the discrimination.

*The Network for Protection against Discrimination aims to develop strategic representation in cases of discrimination by submitting cases before the Commission for Protection against Discrimination and before the domestic and international courts. The development of the domestic practice is encouraged by providing free legal aid 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- options for a healthy life; the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia and the Association for Emancipation, Solifdarity and Equality of Women in the Republic of Macedonia (ECE); ROMA S.O.S. Prilep; “Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities” Coalition and the Center for Support of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities- PORAKA.