Macedonian PM Zaev: “Ashamed I am Prime Minister of a country with such prisons”

Accompanied by the state ombudsman Ixmet Memeti and Executive Director of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Uranija Priovska, Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev visited Idrizovo prison near the capital of Skopje today.

According to Macedonian news agency, the Prime Minister did not hide his disappointment with the conditions at the correctional facility.

“There are no basic conditions for serving a sentence here. I am ashamed to be the Prime Minister of a country with such prisons. The conditions are inhumane, substandard, and far beneath a man’s dignity. I am for amnesty; we hope that it goes into government and parliamentary procedure as soon as possible,” Zaev told reporters after touring the prison. He added that discussions to grant the inmates currently serving their sentences in Idrizovo amnesty were already underway in state institutions.

The correctional facility in Idrizovo has some 1800 inmates, while the capacity of the prison is realistically meant for no more than 800 inmates. After today’s visit, Macedonia’s Prime Minister said that some parts of Idrizovo would have to be demolished, as they are beyond repair.

After Zaev’s public statemenets regarding the condition of the prison and his sentiments about what he saw, Macedonian journalist Tomislav Kezharovski took to social media to tell the PM that he “should visit the cells at the county jail in Shutka.”

In October 2013, Kezharovski was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, during the infamous “Liquidation” case, in which he was charged with revealing the identity of a protected witness in his articles on the Oreshe case. The trial and his time in prison were closely followed by international human rights watchdogs and activists.

The journalist began serving his sentence in Shutka prison, but then requested a transfer to Idrizovo prison, saying the conditions there were much better than those at Shutka.

In an open letter of sorts directed at the Prime Minister, Kezharovski said on his Facebook profile today, “I congratulate your efforts to improve the conditions in the Idrizovo prison and even more on your announcement of an amnesty law. But I suggest, as soon as possible, that you go see the cells in the Shutka county. Right there, first in C-14, and then in C-19, I spent months locked up with three others. I had no privilege to be in the spacious cells, in the new part. Everyone in C were all there who were meant to be broken.”

Feature image source credit: Rašo [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Danica Radisic

Danica Radisic is Editor-in-Chief of The SEE Observer. She is also the proud owner of toddler, teen, two dogs, and a boutique communications and marketing agency. Danica has spent over a decade not only following and working with media in Southeast Europe, but also training journalists in using new tools and new media development. Follow Danica on Twitter as @nikibgd.

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