June 28, 2013

Forensics Trainings Prepare Macedonian Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys for New Criminal Procedure

June 2013

In March, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) hosted the first of a series of joint criminal-forensics trainings for 18 Macedonian prosecutors and defense lawyers. Held in Skopje, the two-day training covered several issues, including crime-scene investigation, chain of custody, biological evidence, fingerprint collection and analysis, DNA, firearms and ballistics, and document analysis.

Participants prepare for the crime scene investigation training.

In 2010, Macedonia passed a criminal procedure code that moves the country’s criminal justice system toward more adversarial, prosecutor-led proceedings that focus on procedural fairness and equality of arms. The code, which will be implemented in December, requires criminal defense lawyers to investigate and prepare a defense for their clients—responsibilities of an investigative judge under the current code, which will be phased out in December.

ABA ROLI’s forensics trainings prepare prosecutors and lawyers for the challenges and demands of criminal procedure under the new system. Participants said that they appreciate the practical, hands-on approach of the training. Damyan Shishkovski, a lawyer from Skopje, said, “This is a very useful program and a great way for students to learn the new [criminal] procedures through doing rather than just studying.”

Similar trainings were first offered to defense lawyers in November 2012.

As reactions to the initial trainings were overwhelmingly positive, ABA ROLI expanded the program to create opportunities for prosecutors as well. The joint trainings bring together prosecutors and defense attorneys, enhancing the professional relationship between the two groups and helping each group understand the other’s role under the revised criminal procedure code.

So far, ABA ROLI has hosted four trainings for advocates and four joint trainings for prosecutors and defense lawyers, affording a total of 148 prosecutors and defense attorneys opportunities to acquire the skills they need to practice in an adversarial criminal justice system. The Macedonian Bar Association and the Macedonian Prosecutors Association helped facilitate the joint trainings, which were supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

To learn more about our work in Macedonia, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.