The latest report of the US State Department on the protection of human rights in Macedonia is the most critical report that Macedonia has received in recent years. Rather than cautionary, as it has been for the past three years, the 2022 report is condemning. What was until now a moderate and careful criticism of the work of the Government, in the latest report is a direct condemnation.

The report notes “serious government corruption, significant judicial corruption, inefficient courts, endemic corruption among prison staff and delayed justice.” In a word, everything that we feel on our skin in Macedonia is contained in the latest State Department report.

The general opinion of the public is that this is the worst State Department report ever.

The president of Transparency International – Macedonia Sladjana Taseva says that for a long time, corruption has been mentioned as one of the biggest problems, and the lists prepared by the US should be supported by responsibility for the actions.

The critical points for an effective fight against corruption are already well known, namely the public prosecutor’s office and the judiciary. The government should take serious measures to completely change the situation in the justice sector, Taseva told Lokalno.

The international factor will not have infinite patience for the worrisome situations in the judiciary and constantly emphasize the existence of corruption, believes former criminal judge, lawyer Vladimir Tufegdzic.

I believe and am convinced that the State Department has knowledge that is extremely credible to make such a report and present this type of concrete findings. The huge number of judges and public prosecutors who do their job honestly should also take the responsibility to deal with a small group of people that are obviously also detected in this report in order to reduce the harmful consequences because it is obvious that the actions of a small group of unscrupulous judges and public prosecutors are doing a big damage to the justice system, Tufegdzic told Kanal 5.

Lawyer Naser Raufi reiterated the urgent need for vetting in the judiciary. The connection between the judiciary and public prosecution with organized crime and corruption should be investigated. Without doing that, the country cannot move forward.

Especially in cases where people who are officials or rich are accused, it very rarely happens or has never happened that a person who is an official or in politics is accused and no longer faces any punishment, this also applies to those who are rich. I think vetting is necessary because the court proceedings show that there is very selective justice. The guilty and the powerful are protected, some are acquitted or not charged at all, Raufi told Alsat.

The opposition welcomed the State Department’s report, evaluating it as objective. For VMRO-DPMNE, criticism of the government and judicial corruption, and this, as it points out, is also confirmed by the citizens who have the lowest level of trust precisely in the justice sector.

Extremely low public confidence in the judiciary is due to significant judicial corruption, as judges deliberately delay trials or appellate review to allow the statute of limitations to take effect. And it is not only the judiciary that is to blame for this, it is clear that the Government is to blame.

Unlike previous reports in which progress was noted, there is no progress in this one. Now we have the exact terminology that says we have high-level government corruption and that is concrete terminology and condemning this government. It is good to look at the report, section by section, where the government thinks there has been progress. We see that we have taken steps backward, Miteva from VMRO-DPMNE said.

The Democratic Union sees in the report the urgency to enter into a direct fight against crime. The MPs of yesterday’s coalition partner of SDSM submitted to the Parliament a Draft Law on the fight against serious forms of organized crime and high-level corruption, which provides for the establishment of an independent Agency for the fight against corruption.

However, what is surprising is the interpretation of the report by the authorities. MP Sanela Shkrijelj feels positive tones in the report.

Corruption is still a problem, but now there is a sentence that says the Government is working to identify and prosecute officials who have been linked to corruption. The example that we have officials from the current ruling majority, and they are prosecuted, indicates that the Government has decided to fight corruption, says Shkrijelj.

Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski, on the other hand, only managed to take a glimpse at it, but he said that it is very important and useful for us and that such documents should be used in order to improve all conditions in society.

As far as I have been able to look at it, there are more messages that can be extracted from it, and some of them we have already addressed. There, progress in many areas is decisively emphasized, which we should highlight, not for the sake of praise, but to encourage all factors and actors in the country to continue with advancement and reforms in their areas. Such reports should be used to improve all conditions in society, especially those who analyze them, Kovacevski said.

The rule of law and the fight against corruption have been the main problems pointed out by the international community for years, and are key to the negotiation process with the EU.