April 30, 2013

Parliament must review the weak spots in the Annual Report of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination

The Network for Protection against Discrimination, after the public presentation of the Annual Report of the Commission against Discrimination for 2012 (the Report), concluded that it has several deficiencies that we would like to disclose to the public. A general remark is that the Report has no educative character and does not determine the discrimination trends in 2012, it does not establish the reasons why a specific basis for discrimination has an increased number of submitted complaints, nor does it list the measures that should be taken to overcome certain conditions of social and systemic discrimination.

The main deficiency in the Report is the inability to establish the effectiveness of the Commission. The report contains information about the number of complaints that the Commission decided not to act upon due to the fact that the deadline for action has expired or due to the obvious lack of violation, but there is no information about the reason for the large number of unresolved cases.

Furthermore, the Report emphasizes the need for necessary measures to be taken in order all of the contents that support gender and other stereotypes and prejudices to be removed. However, the Commission gives recommendations in the report with which it is not consistent. In 2012 the Commission decided on the complaint about the textbook “Criminal Psychology” and instead of eliminating the discriminatory content towards LGBT persons, it did not verify the existence of discrimination. In this way the Commission did not stay consistent with its last year’s views, when discrimination was found in a Pedagogy textbook with similar content.

The Commission also established that from the submitted complaints it can be concluded that there is deliberate discrimination done by individuals, whereby with certain statements and conduct the dignity of a person or a group of persons has been violated due to their personal characteristics, especially when talking about marginalized groups and the LGBT population. However, despite this view the Commission has still not decided regarding the three complaints in which with discriminatory statements deliberately and intentionally the dignity of LGBT persons has been violated.

What is especially worrying is the practice of the Commission to avoid establishing the existence or lack of discrimination based on submitted complaints. It is evident that the Commission adopts opinions with which it terminates the procedure with the explanation that the proceedings are groundless because the violation of the right is removed by the potential discriminators, without prior affirmation whether there is discrimination in the said case. This conduct of the Commission prevents from establishing responsibility of the discriminators and consequently the victim of discrimination is unable to receive further protection from other competent institutions.

In this way, the Commission creates a situation of unrealistic presentation of the conditions of discrimination and this is further reaffirmed with the conclusion with which the existence of discrimination is admitted:” It is a positive fact that the majority of potential discriminators – state bodies, by recommendation by the Commission, are prepared to remove the violation of the right, some of them during the process of resolution of the complaint itself stop the act of discrimination…”

The Network for Protection against Discrimination will ask the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia to review the Report of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination and it will ask for further detailed information concerning the indicated deficiencies.