The report examines police integrity in Macedonia through assessment of external oversight of police, internal accountability, human resource and financial management within police, and criminal prosecution of police officers.
The Parliament provides basic oversight and control of the police. The Committee on Security and Defence, as a parent committee in charge of security-related issues, mainly deals with discussing draft legislation. The Standing Inquiry Committee for Protection of Civil Freedoms and Rights, which is authorised to review communications from citizens and whose findings could be used as grounds for initiating a procedure for accountability of public office holders, has not had any track record since establishment. At the same time, the existing oversight mechanisms, such as holding oversight hearings, remain underused. On the other side, members of the Parliament make good use of parliamentary questions.
On paper, the Ombudsman is well positioned within the Macedonian institutional setup; however, he is faced with obstructions from the institutions in fulfilling his mandate and lack of cooperation with the Internal Control Unit of the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. It should be noted that the Ombudsman has noted an increase in policy brutality and a decrease in the protection of human rights and freedoms.
In regards to internal control, the Department for Internal Control, Criminal Investigations and Professional Standards has undergone structural changes that should allow greater authority and a better delineation between preventive and reactive work. The number of decisions taken in favour of citizens in the cases of excessive use of force remains very low, which undermines public trust in this body. Also, there have been allegations of politicisation of the work of the unit.
The adoption of the Law on Whistle-Blower Protection represents a positive development. Still, the Law needs to be amended to become more precise, and the institutions involved in the process of whistle-blower protection need to be equipped with necessary resources (human, technical, financial) in order to be able to perform. As for the prevention of conflict of interest, the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption needs to overcome certain structural deficiencies, including lack of independence, in order to be recognised as an independent oversight mechanism.
Regarding human resource management, the legal dimension of recruitment is well-established and the process is generally transparent. However, the public perception is that the selection of candidates for police employment is generally made through political and personal connections, which undermines the legitimacy of open calls. Some sectors of the MoI are not adequately equipped, meaning that they lack either a sufficient number of staff or employees with required skills and knowledge.
The budget of the MoI and the police is publically available as part of the Ministry of Finance’s report on the overall Budget of the Republic of Macedonia. However, budget scrutiny is not ensured, and there are no reports on the revenue, expenditure and borrowing of the police. The internal audit unit within the Ministry is not positioned well enough within the organisational structure to establish itself as a robust and independent internal control body. The unit also lacks necessary human and material resources.
The judicial system in Macedonia is one of the weakest links in fighting corruption in the police force and ensuring police integrity. The Public Prosecutor’s Office and the police have not strengthened connections with one another, although extensive plans have been made for them to do so. The European Commission and the public agree on the notable absence of practice and real implementation of the Rule of Law on the ground.