North Macedonia: Census boycotters to face up to 5-year imprisonment

North Macedonia: Census boycotters to face up to 5-year imprisonment

Jasmina Gjorgieva from the State Statistics Service shut down remarks that the campaign for participation in the census targets an ethnic community, since such claims could shape public attitudes. She said the main communication channel was social media and contacts with Greek and international organizations, although she stressed that some of them refused to cooperate in the census. She announced a big virtual discussion these days in which everyone will participate and be able to ask questions about the dilemmas facing regarding statistical analyses.

In response to the census, she said numbers in the United States, Canada and Australia have begun to rise, in addition to those in Switzerland, Germany and Italy and in other emerging countries. According to the latest figures, 5,110 immigrants have registered in the United States so far, 1,682 in Australia and 1,215 in Canada, while in Switzerland the number has exceeded 40,000.

Regarding the responsibility of those who call for a boycott, Gjorgieva said this is an issue falling under other institutions’ jurisdiction. In the event of such refusals, she stressed, the legal provisions of the inventory law will be applied.

“Boycott is not an option because this is an extremely important function. It is a civil obligation and it is compulsory. Boycotting is also a crime, so any call for a boycott is subject to law and the institutions will implement it in such a case,” said government spokesman Dusko Arsovski.

He stressed that the legal basis for punishment, including imprisonment, is the act of “organizing resistance and disobedience to lawful measures of a state body” by the Penal Code, however he claimed the purpose was not to do so. He stressed that the penalties range from fines to three-year imprisonment, while the instigator who organized the boycott shall face up to five years in prison.

The ruling SDSM party also responded with a statement calling on citizens and immigrants to understand the census as a citizen obligation.

“The census is the most important state project and that is why it is very important for all citizens to participate in it. By participating in the census, each individual contributes to building a state based on data and not on assumptions. The inventory is a civil liability defined by law. Participation in the census is mandatory and is the responsibility of every citizen to the state.

At the same time, the process of counting the population not residing in the country, such as migrants and the Diaspora, is in progress. So far, 137,111 North Macedonian citizens abroad have registered through the online application and the self-inventory process will last until April 21. It is welcome that interest in the census process in the diaspora is growing and we expect this trend to continue in the coming period. All our diaspora, from all around the world, should participate in this patriotic act and help shape a clear picture of our people abroad.

Attempts to boycott, to undermine the census are not only illegal, but also against the state. The demand for boycott and postponement of the census, which we often hear from the political parties VMRO-DPMNE and the Left, calls for the collapse of the census. These are anti-state behaviors that will lead to no good, create confusion among citizens and cause serious damage to the state. Boycotting the census is a crime.

It is time to show maturity, responsibility and join the world. Let us not be a dark hole in the statistical map and, after 19 years, let’s carry out a census according to all international standards. Each of us is more than a number, each of us must participate in the census,” the SDSM noted in a statement. /ibna