What happened: In May 2022, a gay man who identifies as queer requested free legal aid from the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights. He informed us that on June 26, 2021, immediately after the Skopje Pride 2021, on Miroslav Krleža Street in Skopje, he was physically attacked by three minors. He immediately reported the incident to the nearest police station, and there is an appropriate medical report for the suffered bodily injuries.
Almost a year later, on May 5, 2022, he was summoned to the Primary Public Prosecutor’s Office Skopje to give a statement as a victim of the event that occurred on June 26, 2021. A representative from the Helsinki Committee accompanied him to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, but due to the private character of the investigation, the public the prosecutor did not allow the presence of the Helsinki Committee.
A representative from the Helsinki Committee monitored the court proceeding on June 21, 2022 in the Basic Criminal Court of Skopje, where the victim was supposed to appear as an injured party, but the judge informed us that because the perpetrators are minors, he excludes the public from the trial. The representative of the HC pointed out Article 92 paragraph 3 of the Law on Justice for Children, which stipulates that the court can allow the presence in the trial of other persons involved in the protection and upbringing of children, persons for protection of children’s rights at the Ombudsman, persons close to the child, representatives of organizations for the protection of children’s rights, as well as scientific workers. The judge proposed postponing the hearing to July 2022, in order for the Helsinki Committee to submit a written explanation on the issue to the court. However, due to the fact that it was in the best interest of the victim that the procedure be completed on the same day, the representative of the HK left the courtroom.
Due to the fact that the victim still has no information about the crime that the perpetrators are accused of, and also due to the fact that he will be out of the country, the Helsinki Committee hired a lawyer with a special power of attorney, who will request the minutes of the hearing held on June 21 directly from the Basic Criminal Court.
Brief description of the incident with bias indicators: In this incident the bias motive is the sexual orientation and the gender identity of the victim, with the bias indicators being:
- Sexual orientation and gender identity – the victim belonged to a different sexual orientation and gender identity
- Time of the incident – immediately after Skopje Pride
Impact on the victims and the community: These types of incidents call into question the general safety in the country, cohesion among different groups in the society, and especially the safety and security of the LGBTI community. Additionally, the lengthy investigative procedures in the public prosecutor’s offices for the prosecution of such acts and the failure to properly qualify them as hate crimes discourages victims from reporting these acts and reduces the victims’ legal certainty.