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Macedonia
28.02.17
Urgent Interventions

Smear campaign and administrative harassment against the Macedonian Helsinki Committee (MHC)

MKD 001 / 0217 / OBS 020

Smearcampaign /

Administrativeharassment

Macedonia

February 28,2017

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in thefollowing situation in Macedonia.

Description of thesituation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the smearcampaign and administrative harassment against the Macedonian HelsinkiCommittee (MHC) in the context of a broader attack against civil societyorganisations, including human rights organisations, in Macedonia.

Accordingto the information received, on December 6, 2016, the Public Revenue Office(PRO) informed the MHC about the launch of a financial inspection of its activitieson December 14, 2016. This took place in the context of the run-up to theparliamentary elections that took place on December 11, 2016, during whichfinancial inspections on 2016 activities targeted around 20 civil societyorganisations that received funds from the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia(FOSM). At the end of December 2016,the financial inspections were discontinued with an indication that they wouldcontinue in 2017. Some of these inspections resumed after January 29, 2017, butwith an extended scope of five financial years rather than focusing on 2016.

Moreover,according to the MHC, PRO would have illegally leaked private financialinformation gathered during past inspections to the Civil Movement for theDefense of Macedonia (GDOM)[1]and some state media officers who used the information to substantiate smearcampaigns against the MHC and other human rights organisations and defenders.

TheObservatory notes that this wave of financial inspections follows politicaltensions that culminated with an anti-civil society campaign conducted bymembers of the incumbent governing political party VMRO-DPMNE, targetingespecially foreign funded civil society organisations.

Indeed,on December 9, 2016, GDOM, circulated leaflets in Skopje listing more than 40civil society leaders including journalists, professors, opposition partymembers, as well as MHC leaders Mr. GordanKalajdziev, Ms. Uranija Pirovska,and Mr. Kocho Andonovski withmentions of their respective salaries. In the leaflet, the GDOM alleged that “people who do not have good intentionstowards our country are behind everything that has happened in our country inthe past two years and that these people are shamelessly paid for everyincident they instigate”. Moreover,the leaflet stated that FOSM had spent six million USD granted by foreigndonors to create an army to “terrorisethe state” and “spit on, throw colouragainst, or destroy monuments of the Macedonian culture, history, identity,and the buildings of the state institutions”. Prior to this, on April 21, 2016,GDOM had publicly called for the Constitutional Court to temporarily ban allnon-governmental organisations and some political parties, which are “paid andworking to destroy the Government and the State”.

Furthermore,on December 17, 2016, during a media interview, VMRO-DPMNE’s leader and formerPrime Minister of Macedonia, Mr. Nikola Gruevski called for “de-Sorosoization”as part of a process aimed at regulating the work of foundations and NGOsoperating in Macedonia. Mr. Gruevski portrayed civil society organisations asdestabilizing elements that corrupt entire sections of the society and shouldbe neutralized with specific measures. After this interview, several VMRO-DPMNEhigh-ranked officials publicly reiterated the same messages. The smear campaignreached its climax on January 17, 2017 with the establishment of a citizenmovement supported by the ruling party “Stop Operation Soros”. This movementdeclared the de-Sorosoization of the civil society sector in Macedonia as itsprimary goal.

TheObservatory strongly condemns the ongoing smear campaign targeting the MHC inthe context of a broader smear campaign against civil society organisations inMacedonia. This runs contrary to Macedonia’s international obligations tocreate an enabling environment for civil society, including human rightsdefenders. Moreover, the Observatory recalls that the right of NGOs to funding,including foreign funding, is an integral and vital part of the right tofreedom of association and must therefore be respected.

Actions requested:

Please write to theauthorities of Macedonia asking them to:

i.Put an end to all forms of harassment and smear campaigns against all humanrights defenders in Macedonia as they only aim at sanctioning their legitimatehuman rights activities;

ii.Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of members of the MHC andmore generally that of all human rights defenders in Macedonia;

iii.Immediately issue a public statement on behalf of the highest level of theState authorities to express full support for the work of human rightsdefenders in Macedonia, including when they express criticism;

iv.Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders,adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998,especially Articles 1 and 12.2;

v.More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights andfundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of HumanRights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified byMacedonia.

Addresses:

· Mr. Gjorge Ivanov, President of the Republic of Macedonia.E-mail: contact@president.mk

· Mr. Agim Nuhiu, Minister of Internal Affairs. E-mail: kontakt@moi.gov.mk

· Mr. Valdet Dzaferi,Minister of Justice. E-mail: cabinet@mjustice.gov.mk, publicrelation@mjustice.gov.mk

· Mr. Nikola Poposki, Minister of ForeignAffairs. E-mail: mailmnr@mfa.gov.mk, vizencentar@mfa.gov.mk

· Mr. Idzet Memeti, Ombudsman of the Republic of Macedonia.E-mail: contact@ombudsman.mk

· Ms.Anastasija Ilieska, Acting Director, Public Revenue Office. E-mail: info@ujp.gov.mk

· Mr. Ljupcho Gjorgjinski, Permanent Mission ofthe Republic of Macedonia to the United Nations in Geneva. E-mail: geneva@mfa.gov.mk

· Mr. Petar Pop-Arsov, Ambassador, PermanentMission of the Republic of Macedonia to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.E-mail: strasbourg@mfa.gov.mk

· Dr. Andrej A. Lepavcov,Ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia to the EU in Brussels. E-mail: brussels@mfa.gov.mk,mission.eu@mfa.gov.mk

· Dr. Kire Ilioski, Ambassador, PermanentMission of the Republic of Macedonia to the International Organizations inVienna. E-mail: mission.vienna@mfa.gov.mk

Pleasealso write to the diplomatic representations of Macedonia in your respectivecountries.

***

Geneva-Paris,February 28, 2017

Kindlyinform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in yourreply.

TheObservatory, an OMCT and FIDH partnership, is dedicated to the protection ofhuman rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time ofneed. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu,the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals[at]fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax OMCT: + 4122 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29

· Tel and fax FIDH: +33(0) 1 43 55 25 18 / 01 43 55 18 80

[1] Anorganisation that openly supports the incumbent governing political partyVMRO-DPMNE.

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