Tiny, little legal issues

How can a captured state be released through a law on inspection? Is it proposed to allow inspectors to enter our houses and homes? Such a provision is unconstitutional, and it is not in any legal system in the world.

Ana Pavlovska-Daneva

At a time when “major political issues” are being resolved, any other, which is not related to changing the name, the Constitution or regards amnesty and reconciliation, becomes an issue of secondary importance. In addition to constitutional changes, of course, detentions, imprisonments, prisons and SPO are topics that guarantee lawyers in Macedonia a “media” career, and perhaps some additional part-time work.

And while all the same representatives of the professional public compete among themselves in presenting views on the content and significance of the amendments to the Constitution, on the ways to “legalize” – through their acrobatic interpretation of the law – how MPs who will support those amendments not going to prison, debating the survival and continuance of the SPO, those same MPs for whose amnesty a whole law is being voted, together with the government representatives, make deals for a two-thirds majority for the so-called reform laws.

Someone will say, the Government was quick on its feet, it made a good “deal”, won’t be sending them to jail, but will use them not only to vote on the amendments to the Constitution, but also for a whole package of laws that will reform the judiciary. And so, the form replaces the essence. Whenever substantial things are to be resolved in Macedonia, the authorities – with an unusual easiness – are throwing out the form that becomes interesting to the people like a shiny, noisy rattle toy, which takes the baby’s attention completely while its parents fill its mouth with a tasteless mix of vegetables.

While numerous intellectuals, prominent social figures speak about the rule of law, a ban on impunity (at the same time bypassing and silencing questions on the amnesty agreed in the Assembly), on judicial reforms and similar major, important topics, no one, not one lawyer (at least one of these “media lawyers”) didn’t ask the following questions:

Will the number of judges in the country remain the same? Will the judicial network, that is, the number, type and jurisdiction of the courts, remain the same? Will the list of lawyers who provide free legal aid to poor citizens remain the same? Will the conditions for prison directors (currently everyone can be the director of a prison) remain the same? Will second-instance decision-making committees on citizens’ rights and acting as quasi-courts continue to exist? Will prosecutors and the courts still wait for the Customs, PRO, the Ministry of Interior and other administrative bodies to have mercy and give them data from their registers or they can, by electronic means, have access to the required document / data in order for their clients not to spend their lives waiting to obtain the necessary data and paperwork for conducting the procedure? Will the Judicial Council remain the same? Will the new members of the Judicial Council (whenever new ones are chosen) sit there again for years (six) and not appear in trials, not work court cases (which should be their main activity) and forget to judge while dealing with elections and dismissals of colleagues? Will the Anti-Corruption Commission, according to the new long-awaited law, again have a record number of seven members instead of reducing the number of officials?

I can continue naming issues that are of importance to every citizen of the country, and have not become part of the package “Quid (vote) pro quo (amnesty)”. Therefore, reforms, real reforms we will be, sadly, discussed much later. Talking, unfortunately, is all we have left.

In the meantime, let’s try to deal with ordinary legal issues. Issues that do not hold “reform quality”, so they are not interesting for debates and opinion pieces. Issues that, while great political steps and games are in the works, are “cooking” in the kitchen of small cabinets. They contain important laws, away from the public eye, in a bureaucratic technical legal language to make the law as incomprehensible as possible. The public is served with selective and selected information. The MPs are not presented with anything, nor are they expected to make a problem (or an amendment) for reasons already commonly known.

Now, the long-awaited law on inspection is in sight. One of those things that are irrelevant, compared to the major political issues: the Constitution, amnesty, SPO, judicial reform … No debate was devoted to this law, not one column was written about it, I did not see one FB status. And there is not one citizen, shopkeeper, restaurateur, businessman, professor, doctor … that is not affected by this law. But, as long as you have the right contact to call in the case “you get inspected,” the law is not important. And everyone has a contact. Old or new, it doesn’t matter. A long as you have it.

I will still try to point out a few things in the new inspection law that seem important to me. For all of us, because the time will come when the provisions of the laws will be important for everyone, for those who have and for those who have no contact, as well as for the contact persons themselves. First, we should not allow the realization of the idea of the few who have many, many contacts in the pocket – just because they have secured a term in office for a while, but haven’t secured any knowledge – and are now suggesting that we allow the inspectors to enter our houses and homes. We must not allow for this provision (I think is published in ENER) to pass because it is unconstitutional, it is not in any legal system in the world and because it will needlessly transform us from a police state to an inspection state, instead of releasing the captured state.

How can a captured state be released through a law on inspection? So instead of every entry of an inspector into a company to be followed by a penalty and a payment order, a warning will be introduced. No, not an “suggestion” as advised by certain experts close to the minister, but a warning as a fine envisaged in all other legislations. Because a suggestion envisages you getting a written suggestion and attend “education”, where, for example, for legal acts in education in the State Educational Inspectorate you will be educated by engineers, and you will pay a fine because in their material regulations the suggestion comes in a package with a fine.

Furthermore, the term “unprofessional and reckless” work should be specified as a basis for dismissal of inspectors and directors of inspectorates, since this notion does not mean anything, it is only a basis for political payback and letting go of the ineligible. We watched this movie for eleven years and we (especially the current government) were against it. Why is the same thing happening all over again?

It is good that a legal opportunity is envisaged for increasing the inspectors’ salaries, they really work at high risk and under serious pressure. But this provision should also be realized. The existing law has the same provision and has never been implemented. A systemic solution is needed to increase the inspectors’ salaries. So we will make them more independent, both from their bosses, and from those who are supervising them. But they also need to constantly attend training and upgrade their knowledge in respecting ethical standards, in personal integrity. There are no such binding norms for the inspectors. As there is no obligation to renew their licence. The rule of “once an inspector-always an inspector” is not a good rule, and even more scary is the basis for the exception of this rule to be “unprofessional and unethical” work, that every director, minister and member of the famous Inspection Council will interpret as he/she finds it fit.

Ultimately, the mockery that is the so-called “professional exam for inspectors” must be stopped. I know that for the part of the Inspection Council and for certain persons from the MISA, the implementation and organization of examinations for inspectors is most likely a powerful job that offers a lot of conveniences and privileges, but it must be borne in mind that there are people who understand the matter and who are mocking all of us as a state. Half of the law on inspection supervision can not refer to the content of the exam questions and the manner of taking the exam for inspectors. It is urgent to envisage the basis for adopting a rule-book for conducting a professional exam for inspectors, so let the writers of norms compete who will be more creative and what kind of novelty in the examination of the future inspectors will be considered. Is it going to be that one of the five offered answers is correct, two less correct and two more and more incorrect, and all of this will be a click on old computers (here’s an opportunity and reason to get new ones) in some smothered computer room with the results out even before the candidates start the exam, or will they conduct public oral examinations before commissions made of eminent experts, with the candidates –if you can imagine – pronouncing a whole sentence before a listening public? Ah yes, in the second case, if their voice is heard, then they will not listen to the voice of another who wants to give orders, therefore a political decision is clicking on silent letters with a correct, or more and less incorrect answers!

(The author is a university professor)