Fiаt iustitia, et pereat mundus! Let justice be done, though the world perish. With requests sealed with this Latin phrase, the expert administrative and auxiliary staff, that is, all employees of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, sent a letter to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Justice Minister Renata Diskoska, President Stevo Pendarovski and EU Ambassadors, the United States Ambassador and the Ambassador of the Netherlands seeking to resolve the future of their jobs.
They are disappointed by the insufficient attention paid to the issue of the future of most of the prosecution staff who work in the shadow of public prosecutors but make the whole system, established by the institution, successful.
The public knows very little that within this Public Prosecutor’s Office there is a department of economists as expert support in conducting financial investigations, department of information technology, administrative service, public relations service, delivery service and fleet staff, translators, and other technical-support staff.
“Considering it unfair that we and our work so far are not subject of interest to the socio-political actors, or worse, when it comes to speaking of us as a mere number to which all labels are added, we would like to remind you of the beginnings of the SPO, which were just as difficult as the prosecution’s situation at this very moment. With the state facing serious challenges for its future and the functioning of the institutions of the system being blocked in every sense of the word, in the months when no institution has supported the establishment of the SPO and its staffing of expert and auxiliary staff, we were encouraged to be the cry of justice and join the prosecution team. Pressured by obstructions, insults, constant media attacks and labeling, knowingly accepting some safety risk for us and our families, we worked responsibly, hard, unreservedly and professionally, consistently obeying the laws, making our efforts to create new professional standards that would be positive an example for all other institutions, wrote employees.
In the letter, they explain their employment contract with the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office. Prosecution jobs are on fixed-term contracts, that is, the employment will be based on the abolition of the SPO. But what they point out is that there is a provision in the current SPO law that stipulates that after the repeal of the SPO, public prosecutors, administrative staff and investigators are moving to work in the Public Prosecutor’s Office in positions of comparable personal income. Virtually all SPO employees, in a situation where all cases are handed over to the regular Public Prosecutor’s Office, and its existence becomes pointless, demand that they move to the regular Public Prosecutor’s Office.
“We appeal to the international community that has been part of the prosecution establishment process and continued monitoring of its work, which has helped build the capacity of the prosecution at its most advanced through specialized training, instruction and specialized staff education, follows the current processes. We also call on all political actors in their actions to be guided by the interests of the state and the determination of the citizens to integrate it into European democratic processes, whose fundamental values are the rule of law and a law-abiding state, unhindered and free from political influence on the institutions, as well as legal certainty for all its citizens, and to make their decisions solely in accordance with the laws in force and not to cause suspicion among citizens that crime, regardless of who committed the crime, could remain unpunished”, the letter reads.
Immediately after the letter, Justice Minister Renata Deskoska responded, saying that during discussions on the law on the Public Prosecutor’s Office they suggested that the SPO employees be transferred to the regular Public Prosecutor’s Office.
“During the discussions on the law on the Public Prosecutor’s Office we take care of all the persons employed in the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office and discuss their status. Our suggestion was that these persons should be transferred to the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office, and that the public prosecutor could further allocate them according to the needs and systematization of the Public Prosecutor’s Office”, said Justice Minister Deskoska.
Employees have also received support for requests and letters from public prosecutors at the institution, whose fate is also in the hands of politicians. Meanwhile, the SPO has sent a report to the regular prosecution, acting on the instructions of their former boss, Katica Janeva, who is in detention. They express their readiness to immediately submit all cases with all the documents and evidence to the regular prosecution, which in future will have to represent the SPO cases.
While politicians are negotiating with the SPO cases, NGOs or the civil sector are urging them to adopt the Law on Public Prosecutor’s Office as soon as possible, and to regulate all matters related to the human resources and staff of this institution.
“SPO prosecutors with built capacities, especially in conducting financial investigations, should be used as a capacity and resource. It would be a waste of resources and staff if they return to the prosecution they are appointed to, continue to function in the new public prosecutor’s office or go to the republic’s public prosecutor’s office”, says Natali Petrovska, representative of the Blueprint group, which has been monitoring reforms of the judicial system in the past two years.
They find VMRO-DPMNE’s proposal unacceptable, that is, the head should be selected on the proposal of the opposition, if a department for prosecution of organized crime and corruption is formed.
They maintain that the SPO as an institution and body should continue to operate within the public prosecution system in accordance with the hierarchical set-up and rules, and that evidence and video material need to be further used in the proceedings in accordance to the evaluation of the judges.
It is up to the political parties and the government to decide how, but we believe that the cases must be completed at all costs, processed so that at the end of the day, the defendants can eventually clear their names and prove their legal commitment to a legal system and to abandon the politics of impunity”, Petrovska recommended.