ECRI: Discriminatory Effect of the 1992 Law on Citizenship of Macedonia
ECRI: Discriminatory Effect of the 1992 Law on Citizenship of Macedonia Posted April 18, 2001
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)
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6. In its first report, ECRI noted the indirect discriminatory effect of the 1992 Law on Citizenship of "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" on some segments of the population, particularly some ethnic Albanians and Roma/Gypsies. Some ethnic Albanians and Roma/Gypsies who have been long-term residents of what is today "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" have not obtained citizenship of this country due to the conditions for citizenship imposed by this law.1 Following a one-year period of facilitated access to citizenship prior to the entry into force of the 1992 Law, long-term residents were given the possibility of acquiring citizenship of "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", within one year of entry into force of the Law, if they met the requirements of 15 years of cumulative residency and a permanent source of income. Those individuals who did not acquire citizenship within the one year period of facilitated access prior to the entry into force of the law or the one-year deadline after its entry into force, either because they did not apply in time or because they were not found eligible, have to apply for citizenship through the ordinary naturalization procedure. In addition to the above requirements, applicants for naturalization must pay an administrative fee of US $250, possess living facilities and be physically and mentally healthy.
7. ECRI reiterates the concern expressed in its first report that these requirements could render acquisition of citizenship more difficult for ethnic Albanians and Roma/Gypsies, who suffer from especially high levels of unemployment ( see Employment) and poverty. ECRI notes with interest the fact that the Government of "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" has been preparing revisions to the Citizenship Law. This work is closely linked with preparations for the future ratification of the European Convention on Nationality. The latest draft reportedly includes a reduction in the period of permanent residency necessary to gain citizenship, a change ECRI would welcome and one in line with the European Convention on Nationality, which "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" has signed. Another proposal, which ECRI strongly supports, would involve a reduction in the administrative fee. ECRI understands a restrictive definition or elimination of the requirement of physical or mental health is also under discussion, and would favor such a proposal since, as noted in ECRI' s first report, such criterion might potentially lend themselves to arbitrary and discriminatory application. ECRI is pleased to learn that the authorities are almost ready to place their work in the public arena for debate, and hopes that this process of consultation will include members of the Albanian and Roma/Gypsy communities.