The debate on achieving legal and judicial environment protection comes at the right, if not even critical moment. While we often hear about money laundering or public procurement fraud, crimes related to the environment in various ways remain in the shadows, especially in North Macedonia. Crimes such as illegal lodging or air pollution are a serious threat to your well-being and to the environment of your beautiful country. Regardless of whether it concerns forest fires in Strumica or Hurricane Ida in New York, today we are facing a devastating impact of our actions on the climate and environment.
This was highlighted by US Ambassador to our country Kate Marie Byrnes at the opening of the one-day discussion of the Ohrid School of Natural Law, titled “Fundamentals of the Legal Reform in the Republic of North Macedonia and Environmental Justice”, which was held yesterday in a virtual format.
– Fortunately, there are actions that we can take. I commend you for responding by using your creative minds to delve into the laws and reforms necessary to prosecute environmental crimes. But drafting laws and reforms is not enough. Laws must be implemented. Investigations must be initiated, and trials must conclude before a lay judge retires or a statute of limitation expires. Violators must be held accountable, regardless of political affiliation or the size of the business. These legal solutions must apply to everyone, with all citizens and businesses equal under the law, said the US Ambassador. Everyone, regardless of whether we live in Skopje or in Ohrid, she added, should have the right to breath clean and healthy air, and the law should uphold that right.
– Working together, I’m convinced that North Macedonia will continue its reform story to increase transparency, fight corruption, and end impunity, protecting its people and the environment, said Ambassador Byrnes and called on students and future judges, prosecutors, lawyers to help in their work in promoting the rule of law as of today, asking for accountability from the government and the institutions.
At the event, which was intended for law students, experts and representatives of the civil society sector, Byrnes announced that the U.S. will continue to support our country in regards to environmental protection through assistance in investigations against illegal logging and water pollution, and announced the arrival of US expert on trial advocacy and environmental law, who will be teaching at the Tetovo State University and South East European University.
The conference had the goal to draw attention to the steps needed for realizing legal and judicial environmental protection. The event was organized by the Center for Strategic Research of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and financially supported by the US Embassy in Skopje.
Translation: N. Cvetkovska