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In early 1993, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) became one of the first foreign technical assistance providers to arrive in the newly independent nation of Macedonia. ABA ROLI developed close working relationships with leaders in the legal profession and a number of legal non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and implemented various programs until April 2006.
We provided judicial-reform assistance through the Macedonian Judges Association, helping it create its continuing education center to train new Macedonian judges. We also provided institution-building support to the Macedonian Prosecutors Association and established the Macedonian Legal Resource Center.
ABA ROLI worked closely with the Macedonian Bar Association and the Macedonian Business Lawyers Association to provide continuing legal education programs and partnered with law schools to establish a legal clinic program. Additionally, ABA ROLI supported the Association for the Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women, a leading women’s organization in Macedonia, in establishing a legal aid clinic working primarily on gender and family issues in Skopje. ABA ROLI also helped to launch the Association of Macedonian Women Jurists.
Since it became a formal candidate for European Union (EU) membership in 2005, Macedonia has undertaken a series of reforms to meet EU requirements. As part of these reforms, Macedonia has been working to strengthen its justice system by increasing judicial transparency and combating corruption. In 2010, Macedonia adopted a revised Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) and began the transition from an inquisitorial criminal justice system to an adversarial one. The CPC introduces plea bargaining and adversarial trials, ensures equality of arms between defense and prosecution, and increases the role of defense attorneys during investigation. In 2011, ABA ROLI reopened its Macedonia office to support the transition to an adversarial criminal justice system by training defense advocates on the CPC.