The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
Challenges: Ever since North Macedonia’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, the United States has supported North Macedonia’s goal to be a prosperous, stable, and inclusive multi-ethnic democracy, firmly embedded in the West and in Euro-Atlantic institutions, including NATO and the European Union. Over the past 25 years, the country has faced significant challenges to fulfilling this vision. These include: economic dislocation and war among neighboring countries in the 1990s; a 27 year dispute with Greece over its name, which blocked entry into NATO and the EU; an armed inter-ethnic conflict in 2001; and, recently, a two-year political crisis fueled by corruption, weak democratic governance, and poor rule of law. The political crisis revealed significant deterioration of rule of law, transparency, media independence, and other elements of democratic governance, which eroded citizens’ trust in its public institutions. North Macedonia’s new government has shown a strong commitment to reforms and achieved some initial successes in addressing weaknesses identified by the EU, the United States, and others. It will take many years to overcome entrenched norms and translate new laws or regulations into daily practice. U.S. assistance, in coordination with that of other donors, seeks to address these deficits, especially strengthening rule of law institutions and combating corruption.
Goals: INL programs seek to strengthen North Macedonia’s democratic governing institutions, support just governance through promotion of the rule of law, and strengthen the capacity of law enforcement and judicial institutions to combat crime, while providing safeguards for due process and international legal standards.
Accomplishments: INL assistance has contributed to the following successes:
- A more effective implementation of the adversarial Criminal Procedure Code, with over 400 defense lawyers and over 100 judges and prosecutors trained on trial advocacy skills.
- The Special Prosecutor’s Office indictment of more than 100 individuals in 20 cases by June 2017, as well as the first successful results in high-level corruption cases, with three guilty verdicts entered in 2018, and more expected this year.
- Improved judicial transparency including: establishment of a Judicial/Media Council designed to build bridges between judges and reporters; first live-streaming of court hearings by the media, including major verdicts in public corruption cases; increased number of instances in which judges allow international observers to attend closed sessions of trials; and increasing regularity of judges more effectively addressing strategic delays by corruption defendants and their counsel.
- Implementation of mock trial exercises and competitions for North Macedonian law students.
- Renovation of the Small Weapons Range of the Ministry of Interior, and construction of a tactical training facility, in cooperation with the European Command (EUCOM), giving North Macedonia the most modern training range in the Balkans.
- Successful implementation of a pilot anti-corruption program begun in June 2016 to equip Skopje’s Highway Police Unit with body-worn cameras, with program expansion now countrywide.
- Established and developed the first-ever Professional Standard Unit within the MOI to improve police professionalism.
- Established a national Intelligence Led Policing (ILP) model for delivering policing services.
- Assisted the Forensics Division to meet ISO accreditation standards for several of the forensics laboratories.