The legislative powers of the police to stop individuals
The Macedonian national legislation allows police officers to stop citizens (whether walking or driving a vehicle) in order to check their identity. After being identified, and depending on the information and facts determined, further actions can be undertaken (a warning, an ‘indication’, an arrest etc.) if a misdemeanour or criminal act have been committed.
Based on the Law on Criminal Procedure (Article 276), in order to investigate offences, to detain a suspect, and to secure and preserve evidence, the police may stop, identify and conduct any required examination of persons, vehicles and luggage, if there are reasons for suspicion. They may not be detained for more than 6 hours. The police may use reasonable force only as a last resort if it proves necessary to conduct the examination. The Law on Criminal Procedure (Article 21) defines some key terms, including:
Examination (“Pregled” or “Преглед” ) of persons, vehicles, luggage and facilities shall mean be limited to an external examination of the clothes, other items and luggage by using the sense of sight, hearing and smell, but excluding any actions that would make visible something that is not visible, by opening, unpacking etc.
Search (“Pretres” or “Претрес”) shall mean a detailed inspection and search of a person, transport vehicles or a home, according to conditions established by the law.
In addition, there are several articles dedicated to measures for locating and safeguarding persons and objects (Articles 181-204).
A search of a person may be conducted if it is likely to find traces or objects in their possession that are important to the criminal procedure. It should be authorised by a warrant, which can be issued following a verbal request. The search shall be conducted by a person of the same gender, unless that is not possible due to the circumstances. The circumstances due to which the search has been conducted by a person of another gender shall be written in the search records. A search that would include taking off parts of the clothing shall always be conducted by a person of the same gender. The search of the intimate parts of the body or body orifices shall always require an explicit approval by the court. The intimate searches shall be conducted by medical personnel.
It should be noted that provisions dedicated to the police authorization “Stop, inspection or search of persons, luggage and transport vehicles” are provided in the Law on Police, as well as in the Rule-book on the manner of conducting the police authorizations.
The obligation to register stops
Records of these police authorizations are kept in the daily bulletins of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as in the annual reports dedicated to certain issues. ]
The records are defined by the Law on Police and Rulebook on the content and the manner of keeping records of the police and the form and the content of the template of the police records. An identity check will require the recording data, including the time and place of the check, the name of the person, their date and place of birth, identification number and current address. It will also note the legal reason for the check and the details of the police officer involved.
Legislation procedures which protect citizens from police offences
The Law on Criminal Procedure (Article 290) stipulates that a person who believes that his/her rights have been violated by any of the actions taken, within a period of 8 days after s/he learned about that action, may file an appeal with the judge of the pre-trial procedure, who shall rule on the legality of the action or measure. This does not limit the person’s right to press criminal charges or the right to seek redress by other legal means. The decision of the judge of the pre-trial procedure shall be delivered to the public prosecutor and the applicant. An appeal shall be allowed against this decision with the Chamber (Article 25 Paragraph 5). The Chamber shall be bound to proceed in a period of 3 days.
The Law on Criminal Procedure (Article 276 Paragraph 4) stipulates that the public prosecutor has the right and duty to exercise control over the police with regard to identity checks.
Further, the person has a right to submit a complaint to the Sector of Internal Control (the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs contains an application for reporting inappropriate behaviour of authorized officials, https://mvr.gov.mk/prijavete-nesoodvetno-postapuvanje). In essence, this is regulated by the Rulebook on the manner of officer conduct and professional standards.
Finally, police authorizations are overseen by the Macedonian Ombudsman (based on the Law on Ombudsman, Law on Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment).
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