FOCUS GROUP with civil society organizations “New and amended criminal provisions in the field of environmental protection”

The Center for legal research and analysis as part of the “Environmental Governance Project” supported by the British Embassy Skopje, on November 9, 2021, at the Marriott Hotel held the first focus group for preparing a new set of criminal provisions in the new Criminal Code concerning the protection of the environment with the presence of civil society organizations that have been active for past few years in the action for the protection of the environment. The focus group was co-organized with the Blueprint Group for Judicial Reform, where CLRA has representatives, who participate in the working group for amendments to the Criminal Code.

The focus group itself was conceptualized as an open discussion on the topic: “New and amended criminal provisions in the field of environmental protection.” In the introductory part, the program manager at CLRA, Nikola Jovanovski, and a representative of the Blueprint Group, Goce Kocevski, gave welcoming speeches. Mr. Jovanovski introduced the participants to this component of the project and elaborated on the aim of this action. The amendments drafted, for the criminal provisions by the working group for amendments to the Criminal Code, were reviewed by three experts who also proposed new criminal provisions in the field of environment, following the examples of the surrounding countries, as well as the EU countries whose legislation may be applicable in our country.

Mr. Kocevski introduced the participants to the work of the Blueprint Group, composed of seven organizations, which aim to follow the reforms in the judiciary and to participate directly in the process to articulate the needs of the entire civil society sector. Considering that the Blueprint Group is not only part of the working group for amendments to the Criminal Code but also part of the working group working on amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, he stressed that any proposal, recommendation, and idea is more than welcomed to identify the shortcomings in criminal law protection of the environment.

In the second part, the two legal experts, the lawyer Emil Miftari and prof. Dr. Olga Kosevaliska and the technical expert, biologist Ana Colovic Lesoska presented the analysis of the proposed criminal provisions in relation to this issue, the shortcomings, also proposals for overcoming them, as well as newly proposed criminal provisions. After each provision and proposal for its amendment, the views and suggestions of the participants were discussed. Additionally, the working materials were distributed to all present participants in order to be able to submit their comments in writing within a week.

The meeting was met with a number of positive comments about the work done by the experts but also resulted in a fruitful discussion with a number of constructive ideas from the audience.

Regarding the further activities, CLRA on November 19, 2021, will organize the second focus group with the members of the working group for amendments to the Criminal Code where the analysis of the three experts will be presented together with the proposals received from the civil society organizations from the first focus group meeting.