North Macedonia

North Macedonia: Mistreatment of asylum seekers and violation of their rights to be addressed urgently

During the 79th Session of the Committee Against Torture (CAT) on Wednesday 1st and Friday 3rd of May 2024, the CAT conducted its 4th periodic review of North Macedonia. The country rapporteurs were Mr. Rouwane, Ms. Maeda and Mr. Contesse (observer).

The country delegation was led by Mr. Jovica Stojanović, the Acting Director of the Administration for the Executive of Sanctions.

Main issues discussed

The CAT experts raised concerns about North Macedonia’s asylum procedure. The recognition rate for asylum remains incredibly low, with only 3 people granted subsidiary protection in 2023, while no individual has been granted refugee status since 2016. Meanwhile, there are cases of ill-treatment, beatings, and threats to life in the event of removal or refoulement, including of children. Often asylum seekers are held in immigration detention centres solely for the purpose of obtaining witness statements in court proceedings against smugglers when the detention should be a measure of last resort for the shortest possible period.

The experts also raised the point that asylum-seekers should not be treated as criminals when they have entered the country illegally; the delay in family reunification for people granted subsidiary protection, which is sometimes up to two years, is unsatisfactory.

Regarding the discrimination against Roma in North Macedonia, CAT members raised the disproportionate representation of Roma in the criminal justice system due to racial profiling, social marginalization, poverty, and prejudices. They expressed concerns about the difficult situation of Roma in the State, citing two tragic cases of Roma deaths in 2023 and cases of death in prison which have ended up before the European Court of Human Rights.

Another important point raised by the experts was the excessive use of force by the police amidst the discrepancy between the high number of complaints and the very low rates of investigation and conviction, with only one police officer being punished out of all the complaints lodged.

The CAT’s recommendations are available here.

Follow-up recommendations:

The State party should provide information by the 10th of May 2025 on the implementation of recommendations regarding:

  • The national preventive mechanism.
  • Prison violence and deaths in custody
  • Investigation of torture, ill-treatment, including excessive use of force.
  • Juvenile justice.

Watch here (part one and part two) of the dialogue with the CAT.


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