Law Professor and former candidate for President Gordana Siljanovska has debunked the claims that people who boycott the census can be handed a jail sentence, which was threatened by Director of the National statistics agency Apostol Simovski.
In statements made for the media and on television channels Simovski threatened those who abstain from taking part in the census and those who motivate others to boycott will be given hefty fines and possible jail sentences. The threat is based on a faulty interpretation of the Law, according to Gordana Siljanovska who teaches law at the University of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Skopje.
In her appearance on Alfa tv on January 25, Siljanovska quoted from the Law to dispel the false threats previously made by Simovski.
According to the Law, says Siljanovska, article 51 of the recently-passed Law on population census stipulates fines of 200 to 300 euros paid in Macedonian denars for those who refuse to provide personal information or provide false information for the purposes of the census.
Nowhere does the Law stipulate fines or a jail sentence for individuals who “incite” or “motivate” others to abstain from taking part in the census.
The Director of the statistics agency has made several appearances in which he stressed the importance of the population census, claiming it is purely a statistical operation which has been opposed by all ethnic Macedonian opposition parties who claim the government coalition of SDSM and DUI are preparing for a political operation with previously determined figures regarding the size of the Macedonian and Albanian ethnic groups.
The government has denied the accusations and is backed by the US embassy, while the EU representatives are calling for a fair census operation run according to European standards.