AREAS OF WORK
Access to Justice
Human rights are fundamental rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, equally, from birth to death. They are guaranteed, no matter where a person comes from, what they believe in or how they choose to live their life. They can never be taken away, and are based on common values such as dignity, impartiality, fairness, equality, respect and independence.
These rights are guaranteed by numerous national and international instruments. Fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as the rule of law are fundamental values of the constitutional order of the Republic of Macedonia. As the highest legal act of the state, the Constitution defines a list of freedoms and rights, and with the ratified international agreements as part of the internal legal order, the possibility is given for the inclusion of additional freedoms and rights that are not provided in the Constitution.
The protection of freedoms and rights is realized through the guarantees of fundamental freedoms and rights. The basic guarantee provided by the Constitution is the possibility for protection before the courts and the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Macedonia in a procedure based on the principles of priority and urgency. Other guarantees for the protection of human rights provided by the Constitution include judicial protection of the legality of individual acts and active familiarization of citizens with them. In addition to these guarantees, protection is achieved through respect for the principle of the rule of law (constitutionality, legality, public disclosure of laws, vacatio legis period, prohibition of retroactive effect of regulations, as well as independent and independent advocacy). Restriction of freedoms and rights is allowed only in cases determined by the Constitution or during martial law and state of emergency, but in this case only in a manner determined by the Constitution.
In addition to protection before the courts, the Constitution establishes the Ombudsman of the Republic of Macedonia as a special body that protects the constitutional and legal rights of citizens when they are violated by state administration bodies and other bodies and organizations that have public powers. Pursuant to Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, a Standing Inquiry Commission has been established within the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia, which aims to protect the freedoms and rights of the citizens.
Asylum and Migration
Macedonian Young Lawyers Association has been a partner of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees since 2010 in providing legal assistance to UNHCR mandated persons in the Republic of North Macedonia. Through partnerships with international organizations, MYLA has implemented many projects in this area.
If you need legal aid for the asylum procedure in North Macedonia, contact us at:
(SMS, Viber, WhatsApp) +389 78 359 298 – MYLA Skopje
(SMS, Viber, WhatsApp) +389 71 997 504 – MYLA Gevgelija
(SMS, Viber, WhatsApp) +389 71 997 508 – MYLA Tabanovce
UNHCR Helpline for refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons (SMS, Viber, WhatsApp): +389 70 229 001
North Macedonia has been hosting refugees since its independence in 1991, with the arrival of refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Croatia. There was a significant influx in 1999 as a result of the Kosovo conflict, when provisional humanitarian aid was handed out to 400,000 refugees from the region, of whom 360,000 were from Kosovo. At present, in our country there are about 250 refugees from the Kosovo crisis who for 20 years have not had a permanent solution to their legal status. In 2015 and 2016, North Macedonia and the countries in the region faced a massive influx of refugees passing through the so-called “Balkan route”. In 2016, the borders were closed and the Northern and Southern borders were put in a state of crisis, which continues to this day.
Free legal aid for asylum seekers and refugees at all stages of the procedure until a final decision is obtained. MYLA is present in the Reception-Transit Centers Tabanovce and Vinojug, the Reception Center for Asylum Seekers in Vizbegovo, with a field office in Suto Orizari open every business day from 08:30 to 16:30. More about our locations at the following link.
The Asylum and Migration Team is composed of 5 lawyers providing representation in the first instance proceedings, 2 field lawyers, an Arabic translator and a Farsi translator, as well as any other language as needed, and lawyers handling cases before the courts.
MYLA actively advocates for changes in legal provisions and practices that violate fundamental rights and human freedoms in asylum procedures. For that purpose, we conduct strategic representation in cases that can generate change and improve the asylum system in North Macedonia before the authorities and courts in the country, as well as before the European Court of Human Rights and other international instruments.
Research and policies
MYLA works on research and has published more than 60 publications on asylum and migration. In addition, MYLA participates and contributes to the drafting of primary and secondary legislation in the field of asylum and migration. The list of primary and secondary legislation to which MYLA has contributed can be accessed here.
MYLA provides legal training in the field of asylum and migration to state institutions, judicial bodies, local governments, CSOs and lawyers, in the following topics: Asylum Procedure in the Republic of North Macedonia, Efficient Asylum and Migration System, Free Legal Aid for Asylum Seekers, Refugee Integration and Citizenship Procedure, Interviewing Techniques, Dealing with Vulnerable Categories of Refugees and Migrants, Procedure for restriction of freedom of movement of asylum seekers and migrants and legal remedies, Strategic litigation before the ECHR in cases related to asylum and migration, Manner of sensitive reporting of refugee stories, Asylum mock trials.
Regional and international cooperation
MYLA is the founder and member of
The Balkan Refugee and Migration Council (BRMC) is a coalition of five civil society organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia. The members of the coalition are prominent civil society organizations with specific competencies demonstrated through many years of work in the field of asylum and migration policy at national and regional level.
Since 2012 MYLA is part of
Since 2017 MYLA is part of
- A judgment rendered by ECHR thereby establishing a violation of the refugee’s right.
- Interim measure adopted by the ECHR for violation of the refugee’s right – detention of refugees
- MYLA Intervention as an concerned party in a case before the ECHR
- MYLA has formed a group of lawyers for strategic litigation in the field of asylum (SLAG)
- MYLA has formed a group of lawyers who monitor the migration movements, access to the territory and the principle of non-refoulment by the state (Antenna Lawyers)
- Support to the asylum and case registration system in the last few years, including the refugee/ migrant crisis since 2015
Human trafficking is a serious form of violation of human rights and freedoms and mostly affects the most vulnerable categories. MYLA is committed to the identification and legal protection of victims with full regard for human rights.
By Decision of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy from March 2018, the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association is part of 4 mobile teams to identify vulnerable categories of citizens, including victims of human trafficking in Bitola, Kumanovo, Gevgelija and Tetovo.
The mobile teams include representatives of the Centers for Social Work, representatives of the Ministry of Interior – the national unit for combating trafficking in human beings and citizens’ associations.
From March 2018 to December 2019, within the Mobile Anti-Trafficking Teams, MYLA provided legal assistance and counseling to 6 victims of human trafficking, 127 potential victims of human trafficking and 537 vulnerable categories of citizens.
In addition, MYLA is dedicated to preventing and raising awareness of human trafficking in North Macedonia. Our activities include informative sessions and events related to human trafficking, as well as conferences on this topic. So far, specific campaigns have been developed for the issue of human trafficking, cyber trafficking in children, seasonal work, human trafficking in children with disabilities, etc. The campaigns are available at the following link.
More about human trafficking is available on the MYLA website intended for raising public awareness at SAY STOP!
REPORT HUMAN TRAFICKING
Macedonian Young Lawyers Association works to improve the system for protection of children’s rights. Despite the efforts of the state to regulate and strive for consistent respect and realization of children’s rights, there are violations that significantly affect children’s rights; disrespect for the best interests of the child, as well as insufficient protection from violations in the family, kindergartens, educational institutions and child care institutions.
Free legal aid for children
Protection of children’s rights can be implemented by initiating two procedures: a civil procedure and a criminal procedure. In cooperation with SOS Detsko Selo (SOS Children’s Village) we established a service for the protection of victims of violent crimes targeting children, the elderly, women, and persons with disabilities. The Service for Protection of Victims of Violent Crimes provides legal, psychological and social support services to victims of violent crimes.
Research and policy
MYLA identifies the key problems and challenges related to the social protection system through analyses and submitted comments on the proposed legal amendments to create a more effective legislation that will protect and safeguard the rights of children. Recognizing the good practices of other countries, recommendations are made to improve the legislative framework in this area. As part of the working groups in the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia for amending existing legislation whereby the position and protection are improved and more efficient and comprehensive protection of the rights and interests of children is obtained, MYLA has contributed to the work by submitting comments on proposed legislation. The list of primary and secondary legislation where MYLA has made contributions can be accessed here.
Seen through the prism of persons who have a role to play in ensuring protection and safeguarding realization of children’s rights in those situations where their rights have been violated, MYLA has developed a training curriculum for the necessary measures and skills related to interviewing child victims and/or witnesses in criminal and civil proceedings, which was approved and incorporated in the curriculum of the Academy of Judges and Public Prosecutors.
MYLA monitors the development of legal thought and science on a global level and directs its activities according to the needs of society. Human activities contribute to side effects and damage the environment. Given the situation and problems related to the environment that we face in our country, legal protection of the environment is necessary, including legal protection of basic human rights, namely the right to life and the right the privacy of personal and family life as well as the inviolability of the home.
MYLA actively monitors all environmental conditions across the country and is committed to legal protection of the environment and human rights viewed through the prism of a healthy environment.
- Strategic advocacy/litigation- supporting and conducting legal proceedings aimed at systemic change or altering negative societal circumstances
- Research- preparation of research, analyses, legal opinions on the situation and shortcomings in relation to environmental protection and appropriate recommendations
- In March 2020, Macedonian Young Lawyers Association together with the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MANU) and the CPIA organized a Debate on “Legal protection of nature and the environment and judicial protection of the right to a healthy environment. “
- In July 2019, MYLA filed a complaint before the Civil Court, requesting the Court to establish that the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia, the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning and the City of Skopje in the period from 2007 to 2018, failed to undertake effective measures to reduce the concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10 particles in the air and consequently were in contravention of the right to health, the right to a healthy environment, the right to privacy of personal and family life and the right to inviolability of the home.
- In October/November 2019, MYLA filed criminal charges against public office holders for omission, or non-performance of environmental protection actions, which, according to Macedonian legislation, they were obliged to implement
- Prepared legal opinion on the legal regulation of emissions of hazardous air pollutants
- Established cooperation with Client Earth
- MYLA has become a part of the Aarhus Center in Macedonia and in the future will actively provide legal assistance on environmental issues
Discrimination is any action that causes unequal treatment, which is not legitimately and proportionately founded, in a way that is based on certain personal features (discriminatory grounds) a certain person or a certain group is excluded, restricted or given priority in exercising fundamental rights and freedoms.
Macedonian Association of Young Lawyers has been active the protection against discrimination since 2009- after issuing a report on the necessity to adopt a Law on Protection against Discrimination, and thereafter its adoption, in providing legal aid and building a positive case law based on strategic advocacy and litigation for potential victims of discrimination before the authorities of competent jurisdiction and public awareness-raising activities. In 2014, we won the case whereby they received the first court ruling in the country establishing discrimination pursuant to the Law on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination. The same year, MYLA won a a second court ruling in the country was rendered, whereby discrimination in the field of labor relations was established for the first time.
MYLA’s activities are divided into the following categories:
Free legal aid
MYLA offers free legal aid and representation of victims of discrimination before the competent institutions, courts and international bodies, with more than 70 procedures initiated. This activity contributes to the establishment of practice in institutions and courts for the protection of violation of rights arising as a result of discrimination. Through strategic advocacy we encourage and assist citizens to report discrimination and take measures to the competent domestic and international institutions and judicial bodies for protection against discrimination.
The procedures refer to discrimination in different areas and on different grounds in accordance with the Law on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination, other laws and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.
Research and policies
MYLA works on research on legal protection against discrimination in North Macedonia by collecting information from institutions on how to apply legal solutions and mechanisms for protection against discrimination that are available to citizens, ie victims of discrimination. We produce analyses on the relevant issues that include suggesttions for solutions, as well as case studies on the protection against discrimination.
MYLA regularly conducts trainings in the field of protection against discrimination for lawyers and practitioners in North Macedonia, with a focus on international trends and the European Convention on Human Rights. In recent years we have held trainings for a large number of lawyers and young lawyers. MYLA in cooperation with the Macedonian Police Union held a series of trainings for the members of the union in order to increase the sensitivity among police officers on issues related to equality as a fundamental right.
The Basic Court Skopje II Skopje, at the proceedings supported by the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association (MYLA), passed the first judgment establishing discrimination and in contravention of the Law on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination. The court found discrimination and violation of the right to equality. According to the court, the respondent, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) by preventing the applicant, a member of the Roma ethnicity, to leave the territory of the Republic of Macedonia has therefore acted contrary to Article 8 of the Law on Border Control and has restricted the person’s right to free movement and the right to equality, rights which are guaranteed by Article 9 and Article 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia.
The Basic Court Skopje II Skopje, at the proceedings supported by the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association (MYLA), passed the second judgment on discrimination in contravention of the Law on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination, the first ruling whereby discrimination was established in the field of labor relations. The Court found discrimination and violation of the right to equality and discrimination on the grounds of victimization, in relation to the exercise of employment rights due to non-payment of salary and pay contributions.
The Basic Court Delchevo, at proceedings supported by MYLA, passed a judgment of discrimination on the grounds of intellectual and physical disability as actions were not taken to adjust the space and infrastructure and to therefore provide the applicant the access to goods and services, since the applicant was a person with intellectual and physical disability.
The Administrative Court Skopje passed a judgment upholding the applicant’s complaint and therefore annulling the Decision of the Ministry of Justice, which as a second instance body upheld the decision of the Home Registry Office whereby the applicant’s request to have the birth register data corrected and changes made to gender data, was rejected.
The Basic Court Skopje II Skopje, passed a first instance judgment whereby the respondent – Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy of the Republic of Macedonia, committed discrimination on the grounds of political affiliation in the field of labor relations. This judgment is the first to establish discrimination on the grounds of political affiliation in employment.
The Basic Court Skopje II Skopje, in proceedings supported by the MYLA, passed a first instance judgment whereby the Municipality, as the respondent, committed discrimination on the grounds of language and ethnicity in the field of work and labor relations. The judgment prohibits the respondent from taking further discriminatory actions.
The Skopje Court of Appeals, at proceedings supported by MYLA, passed a judgment establishing a contravention of the applicant’s right to equal opportunity and treatment by discriminating on the grounds of pregnancy in parenthood. The Skopje Court of Appeals upheld the judgment of the Basic Court in Kumanovo, which found that the respondents violated the applicant’s right to equal opportunities and treatment, i.e discriminated against the applicant on the grounds of family status, familial and marital status, and pregnancy in parenthood.
The Bitola Court of Appeals ruled that the Municipality of Prilep and PCE Vodovod i Kanalizacija Prilep (Water Supply and Sewage Company) discriminated against the applicants by failure to provide them access to clean and healthy drinking water. According to the Court, the respondents, the Municipality of Prilep and PCE Vodovod i Kanalizacija, failed to prove they did not discriminate, and so the Court upheld the complaint. Therefore, the Court directly and correctly applied the rule according to which the burden of proof of discrimination falls on the respondents, not the applicants.
Since 2011, as a partner of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Macedonian Young Lawyers Association provides free legal aid and legal assistance to persons without registered civil status and persons at risk of statelessness in North Macedonia. Through partnerships and with many other international organizations , we have implemented many projects in this area.
Resolving the status of unregistered persons in the
birth certificate registry office, more info at the following link
STATELESSNESS IN MACEDONIA
On November 1, 2018, the public call of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and the Home Registry Office ended, according to which 700 people who do not own personal documents were identified.
See how much time has passed ever since:
During which time, “0” cases have been solved.
Statelessness and the lack of registered civil status and personal documents is a serious problem in the exercise of basic social and economic rights for many people living in Macedonia. For most of these people, poverty, marginalization and discrimination are a “standard” part of everyday life. Most affected are stateless children who grow up believing that fundamental rights are a luxury reserved for children other than themselves. Learn more about statelessness in Macedonia here.
MYLA provides legal assistance to stateless persons and persons at risk of becoming stateless, with a focus on persons who have not registered their birth and personal name before the Home Registry Office of the Ministry of Justice. We cooperate with the Department for Foreigners and Readmission and the Department for Citizenship on all issues related to the interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Law on Foreigners and the Law on Citizenship. MYLA actively participates in the development and contributes to the improvement of the legislation in this area through research and analyses, and holds annuall conferences, trainings, workshops, and round tables.
The MYLA office in Suto Orizari is open every working day from 08:30 to 16:30 at the following location.
Since 2011 MYLA has been a part of the WeBLAN regional network.
WeBLAN activities include assistance with civil registration procedures and the provision of documentation in the region, cooperation on various cases and issues related to cross-border cooperation, exchange of information on legal and administrative frameworks and procedures in the region regarding civil registration, joint lobbying, and giving recommendations to the countries in the region for preventing citizenship and access to fundamental rights, sharing best practices and seeking solutions to identified problems, promoting WeBLAN among relevant local, national, regional and international institutions.
MYLA is also part of the European Network on Statelessness initiative where data on the statelessness situation throughout Europe are updated every year:
Implemented projects on statelessness:
2011 – 2020 Prevention and Reduction of Statelessness in Macedonia (UNHCR)
2012 – 2013 Julia Taft Refugee Fund Project for Documenting Refugees (US Embassy)
2017 – 2019 Statelessness index update (ENS)