Macedonian Court Sentences Romani Minor as an Adult
07 May 2002
After a local court in Strumica, south-eastern Macedonia, sentenced S.S., a male Romani minor at the time of his offence, according to regulations applicable to adult offenders, he was taken to prison on January 3, 2002, and released on January 18, 2002, only after the intervention of local Roma rights advocates. Initially, the forestry police filed a lawsuit against S.S. on June 20, 2000, for committing a violation of the Law on Forestry, Article 77, paragraph 1(5), after he was caught in the theft of 0.13 cubic metres of oak wood. In the absence of the defendant, on November 28, 2000, the Municipal Court in Strumica sentenced S.S. to a fine of 30,000 Macedonian denars (approximately 500 euros), to be paid within 15 days after the verdict came into effect, as well as damages of 910 denars (approximately 15 euros). As S.S. did not pay the fines, the Court substituted it with 30 days in prison, and on January 3, 2002, S.S. was arrested and taken to the local prison. On January 17, 2002, the parents of S.S. informed the Štip-based Association for Human Rights Protection of Roma, an ERRC local partner in monitoring Roma rights in Macedonia about the case. Upon reviewing the case documents, the association established that the court had not taken into account the fact that Mr S.S. was a minor when he committed the offence. On January 18, 2002, the Association for Human Rights Protection of Roma filed a request for review of the procedure with the Municipal Court in Strumica, and requested the release of S.S. from prison. On the same day, the court accepted the requests, and S.S. was set free. The ERRC is considering further action in the case.
(Association for Human Rights Protection of Roma, ERRC)