Macedonian Young Lawyers Association (MYLA) would like to inform you that as of April 19th, 2018, the Law on International and Temporary Protection will enter into force, and as from that moment, the current Law on Asylum and Temporary Protection will cease to be valid.
MYLA welcomes the adoption of the new law in the field of international protection in the Republic of Macedonia and considers that this law to represent a significant step forward in the process of harmonization of the Macedonian legislation in this area with the EU acquis. It is of particular importance to note that this law will offer solutions to some of the disputed provisions from the current Law on Asylum and Temporary Protection, adopted in 2016. In spite of this, we must express our concern regarding the law-making process in which not all of the relevant actors were included, as well as regarding the new measure that is introduced by this Law – limitation of the freedom of movement of asylum seekers.
The controversial provisions of the previous law were adopted in 2016 and limited two essential rights for the persons who expressed need for international protection in the Republic of Macedonia: the right to family reunification and access to an effective asylum procedure. On the occasion of these changes, the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association reacted to the competent institutions requesting the changes to be withdrawn and took participation in the initiative of the Ombudsman of RM who requested amendments of the law from the Government. The new Law on International and Temporary Protection has overcome the concerns that arose as a result of the disputed legal solutions.
MYLA also values as positive the efforts to further align the Macedonian legislation in the area of asylum with the European directives.
However, we are expressing our concerns regarding one of the major changes introduced by the new law, i.e. the possibility of limiting the freedom of movement of asylum seekers. As per this measure, the freedom of movement of persons who have applied for asylum in the Republic of Macedonia and for whom the procedure for recognition of the right to asylum is ongoing, can be limited by a decision of the Ministry of Interior in certain cases provided by the Law.
Although this new legal possibility is in line with the European law, some of the guarantees for the rights of asylum seekers in these cases as prescribed by the Directive 2013/33/EU are missing, especially concerning the length and conditions of the limitation of freedom of movement, as well as the special rules regarding children, families and female asylum seekers.
MYLA believes that the limitation of freedom of movement of asylum seekers should be used only as a measure of last resort and that its application to children is unacceptable. In this regard, we believe that appropriate alternatives which will ensure the protection of the rights, dignity and well-being of these persons should be available. Hence, it is necessary for the law to include the guarantees prescribed by the Directive, as well as additional guarantees aimed at greater protection for asylum seekers whose freedom of movement is limited by this measure.
Finally, we once again emphasize that this law was adopted in an insufficiently inclusive process, in which civil society representatives working on this field were not included and it was reached in absence of a public debate, i.e. it was reached while lacking many important prerequisites for adopting a quality law in an open and transparent atmosphere. We hope that the period ahead will be used for a comprehensive national dialogue in the Republic of Macedonia, through which the weaknesses of some of the new legal solutions will be identified and will be adequately addressed, in order to fully meet the international standards and obligations in the area of the protection of persons seeking international protection.