UN rights official on Macedonia: Serious challenges to rule of law, ‘democratic space’ shrinking

United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović says he is deeply concerned by serious challenges to the rule of law and the “shrinking of the democratic space” in Macedonia.

“Far-reaching improvements are needed in areas such as judicial independence, media freedom and the separation of state institutions from party influence, as different UN human rights mechanisms have previously highlighted,” Šimonović said in a statement after a two-day visit to the country.

The release of wiretapped conversations and the political crisis that developed around them had brought many human rights issues clearly into focus, he said, as reported by the UN News Centre.
He urged prompt, comprehensive and impartial investigations into both the recent clashes in Kumanovo and the wire-tapping case.

“Despite these significant challenges, there are some grounds for optimism,” Šimonović said. “I welcome the opening of a dialogue between the government and the opposition to defuse tensions and address the current crisis. In addition, it is crucial to broaden this dialogue to include civil society. This is vital to build trust and engage the public in resolving the crisis.”

In addition, “there is consensus among political actors, civil society and the public that the best hope for the country’s future lies in practical reforms to foster a diverse and multi-ethnic society in which human rights are equally respected for all. I am encouraged by the inter-ethnic solidarity demonstrated by the public in recent weeks.”

“There is a lot of homework that remains to be done here,” Šimonović said.

“It is a shared responsibility among all actors of this country. Furthermore, implementing the reforms related to European Union accession and within the international human rights framework would help to move forward and overcome these challenges. The United Nations supports the country and its people and stands ready to assist wherever it can,” he said.

(Photo: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)



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