Latest developments in 2019

AuthorBiljana Kotevska
12.1 Legislative amendments
On 16 May 2019, the Parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia adopted a new La w
on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination. This law replaced the 2010 Law on
Prevention and Protection against Di scrimination. There were many reasons for adopting
a new law, but the main ones were that the previous law was n ot fully in line with the EU
acquis and that it did not provide a framework for effective protection against
Overall, the new ADL brings some much-needed improvements to the legal framework and
is a significant improvement compared to the previous laws. Although drafted in a more
inclusive manner, especially in terms of participation of CSOs in the working g roup which
drafted the law, the new A DL was blocked in the Parliament and only progressed to
adoption following significant protests by CSOs and pressure from representatives of
international organisations and institutions in the country, includin g the European Union.
The main reason for the blockage in Parliament was that some MPs opposed the fact that
the law included sexual orientation and gender identity among the explicitly protected
discrimination grounds.280
The law was first adopted in March 2019. However, the (then) President Gjorgje Ivanov
refused to sign the act promulgating the law because it carried the new name of the country
North Macedonia to which he was opposed. He th erefore used his constitutional right
to veto and returned the law to the Parliament. In the meantime, presidential elections
took place and a new president was elected Stevo Pendarovski. Th e Parliament adopted
the law for a second time and, after President Pendarovski signed it, it was published in
the Official Gazette on 22 May 2019.
A new Law on Social Protection was also adopted. Instead of elaborating on various legal
institutes, this law contains a reference to the Anti-discrimination Law. Article 16(3) of the
Law on Social Prot ection refers to the Anti-Discrimination Lawз stating: ‘The protection
against discrimination is provided in line with the Law on Prevention and Protection against
In addition, the new Law on Free Legal Aid (FLAL) was adopted.281 This law will replace the
2009 Law on Free Legal Aid (the old law). Th e law was adopted in a very participative
process. Prominent CSOs which provide free legal aid took part in the drafting of the FLAL
and expressed satisfaction with the versi on of the FLAL that was adopted.282 The FLAL,
which entered into force on 22 May 2019 and was to be implemented as of Octob er 2019,
transposes the Council Directive 2002/8/EC on improving access to justice in cross-border
disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such d isputes.
The old law was criticised on many points, and primarily by CSOs whic h provide free legal
aid. The law was said to provide legal aid only for a narrow set of strictly listed legal areas
and for a sma ll part of the expenses. The law applied to procedures related to securing
‘rights in the field of socialз healthз pension or disability insuranceз labour relationsз
protection of children, victims of domestic violence, protection of victims of crime,
protection of victims of human trafficking, recognition of the right to asylum and property-
legal issues’ гArticle уд. As can be read from t his provisionз cases of discrimination were
280 See flash report:
281 Law on Free Legal Aid, 2019. Full title: Republic of North Macedonia, Law on Free Legal Aid ( 
  ), Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia, No.101/2019.
282 Pravdiko (2019),            
 (‘The new free legal aid law with improved solutions for access to justice’), Pravdiko Website,

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