General legal framework

AuthorBiljana Kotevska
Constitutional provisions on protection against discrimination and the promotion
of equality
The Constitution of North Macedonia includes the following articles dealing with non-
- Article 9 explicitly covers the following gr ounds: sex, race, skin colour, national or
social origin, political and religious belief, property and social status (closed list of
grounds) (paragraph 1). Paragraph 2 contains a general equality clause on equality
before the law, which is not tied to a discrimination ground, making the personal
scope of the article open but still limit ed only to citizens and, in accordance with the
practice of the Constitutional Court, to natural persons.
- Article 54 prohibits discriminatory limitations of constitutionally prescribed rights and
freedoms on grounds of sex, race, colour, language, religion, national or social origin,
property or social status.
The provisions apply to all areas covered by the directives. Their material scope is broader
than those of the directives.
In theory, these provisions are directl y applicable, but this is not so in practice.48 Un der
the Constitution, every citizen may invoke the protection of freedoms and rights prescribed
in the Constitution before the ordinary courts and before the Constitutional Court, through
a procedure based upon the principles of priority and urgency. However, t he ordinary
courts have a practice of rejecting Constitution-based human right s claims. Th e
Constitution also guarantees judicial protection of the legality of individual acts of the state
administration and of other p ublic institutions (Article 50). Thus the letter of the law say s
that the constitutional provisions are directly ap plicable, but practice indicates otherwise.
The mechanisms enabling ordinary courts to directly apply the constitutional anti-
discrimination provision have not been used.49
In practice, there are no requests for interpretation of constitutional provisions from the
ordinary courts to the Constitutional Court and there is no practice of referencing the
Constitutional Court by the ordinary courts. This is for two reasons. First, regardless of the
procedure used, ordinary courts insist that a lawsuit is brought invoking p rovisions of
specific laws, and they tend not to implement the Constitution directly. Second, the
Constitutional Court’s positioning and practice is such that it does not enter into revisions
of verdicts and decisions of the ordinary courts.50
Although judicial interpretation would be required, there is no reason to expect that
constitutional equality clauses cannot be enforced against private actors (as well as against
the state). However, in view of the comments above on the actual use of these provisions
before the ordinary courts, the practical relevance of this is questionable.
48 See Section 1(b) of the 2013 Report:
49 This does not mean that ordinary courts do not mention provisions from the Constitution.
50 See, for example, Constitutional Court cases: U.No.55/2015 (para.4) (24 June 2015); U.No.152/2012-0-0
(para.4) (14 November 2012); U.No.172/2002 (para.4) (25December 2002); U.No.37/1997 (para.3) (19
March 1997).

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