On August 29, 2023, the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia submitted to the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia the Draft Law on amendments and additions to the Criminal Law in accordance with the National program for the adoption of the Laws of the European Union 2021-2025, according to which the Republic of North Macedonia is obliged to harmonize legal regulations from the Criminal area with the latest European directives and international standards in this area.
In the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia on September 6, 2023, the amendments to the Criminal Law were adopted in an abbreviated procedure and published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia on September 7, 2023. The amendments provide for the reduction of penalties for abuse of official position and Criminal association, introduce a new Criminal offenses “ecocide”, “changing the water regime”, “illegal operation of facilities” and “endangering the environment with noise, vibration or non-ionizing radiation”, as well as make changes to a large number of articles that provide for an increase in prison sentences for certain types of Criminal offenses.
For the first time in the Republic of North Macedonia, the Criminal offense – “ecocide” is introduced, which stipulates that a certain person, if he intends to cause damage to the environment, takes a certain action or fails to take an action that causes serious or widespread or long-term damage to the environment, shall be punished by imprisonment for at least 10 years or life imprisonment.
In addition, the amendments to the section “Criminal offenses against the environment and nature” introduce the Criminal offense “altering the water regime”, which stipulates that if a certain person alters or disturbs the water regime, he/she will be punished with a fine or imprisonment for up to one year, unless he/she commits another Criminal offense for which a more severe punishment is prescribed. If the perpetrator commits this Criminal offense in an area that has been declared a protected area, he shall be punished by a fine or imprisonment for up to three years.
There are also a number of changes in the section – Criminal offenses against official position. The current paragraph 5 of Article 353 of the Criminal Law, which provides for imprisonment for a term of not less than five years for an official who, using his official position, obtains an advantage for himself or another person in the course of public procurement or to the detriment of budgetary funds, has been deleted.
Furthermore, for the Criminal offense – “Criminal association” with the latest amendments, it is provided that whoever forms a group or gang whose purpose is to commit Criminal offenses for which imprisonment for a term of three years or more may be imposed, shall be punished by imprisonment of up to three years. Each member of the group or gang with the new amendments is expected to be punished with imprisonment of up to three years. The new amendments are much less severe in contrast to the previous legal regulations for imposing a prison sentence for this type of Criminal offense were from one to ten years for the person who will form a group or gang, and a prison sentence from six months to five years for the member of the group or gang.