Determined discrimination on grounds of ethnicity in access to clean and healthy drinking water

The Court of Appeal Bitola determined discrimination on ground of ethnicity committed by preventing access to clean and healthy drinking water

The Macedonian Young Lawyers Association (MYLA) informs the public that on 13.12.2019 the Court of Appeal Bitola brought a judgement which alters the judgement of the Primary Court Prilep, and determined that the Municipality of Prilep and the Public Enterprise for Water Supply and Sewage discriminated the plaintiffs by preventing them access to clean and healthy drinking water.

The plaintiffs, part of the Roma community, live in the suburbs of Prilep where they don’t have access to clean and healthy drinking water comparing to the other citizens of Prilep who live nearby and are from different ethnicity. The plaintiffs, in a litigation supported by MYLA, sought judicial protection considering that they felt that their right to equality has been violated by not having access to clean and healthy drinking water as a result of being part of the Roma community. The plaintiffs submitted an appeal to the judgement of the Primary Court Prilep by which their claims have been rejected as unfounded.

The Court of Appeal Bitola upheld the appeal and altered the first instance judgement in favor of the plaintiffs. According to the Court, the Municipality of Prilep and Public Enterprise for Water Supply and Sewage, failed to prove that they didn’t commit discrimination. The Court rightfully and directly applied the rule for according to which it is on the defendants, in discrimination cases, to prove that their actions do not represent discrimination. This decision creates positive case law leading to easing the access to justice for discrimination victims.

The application of the provision of the Constitution, according to which the water represents a public interest good of the state as well as the application of the Resolution A/Res/64/292 dated from 28.07.2010 of the General Assembly of the UN, which recognizes the access to water, water supply and sewage as a human right, is to be welcomed. The Court applied the case law of the ECtHR according to which the indecent living condition that result from lack of access to healthy drinking water and maintaining of personal hygiene can lead to level of suffering under the Article 3 of the ECHR and violates the right to private and family life under the Article 8 of the ECHR.

MYLA welcomes the decision of the Court and emphasizes the great importance of the verdict because it raises the right to clean drinking water as a basic human right and establishes the state’s responsibility to undertake active measures in order to provide every person and group with equal access to clean drinking water.

The plaintiffs were represented by Emil Parishko, attorney at law in Bitola, part of MYLA’s team of lawyers.

Contact person: Aleksandra Cvetanovska, project manager,

tel. 075/427735, e-mail: acvetanovska@myla.org.mk