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The high penalties can not stop the pedophiles

Skopje, May 9th – These days the registry for pedophiles should become operational and will display the convicted pedophiles from Macedonia on the Internet. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs prepared a list of seventy pedophiles that the citizens can view online, through the website: www.stop-pedofilija.org.mk. It will also include photos, names and surnames of the convicted pedophiles. On the site can be found lessons, advices and guidance for victims and their parents.

This step by the relevant social institutions is the last in a series of measures which Macedonia has undertaken to deal with the pedophilia and to try to protect the children from the pedophiles. The authorities hope that the register will help to overcome the problem with this asocial phenomenon, but the NGOs warn that publishing the photographs of the pedophiles on the internet will not stop them in the future to abuse the children unless the state tightens the penalties for this felony.

Not a single sentence of life imprisonment.
Not a single pedophile in Macedonia has been sentenced to life imprisonment, although the law provides such a sentence for sexual assault over a minor who has not attained the age of 14.

First Children's Embassy in the World – Megjashi has reacted several times and required from the judges to condemn the pedophiles, rapists of children with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, until the state provide conditions that will confirm that the pedophiles will stop repeating the offense.
Yet it is evident that the trial courts impose moderate sentences and often even only probation and there are also many cases where the pedophiles repeat the offense.

As stated by Megjashi, the life imprisonment as a penalty measure can help the perpetrators of these crimes to be in complete isolation. On the other side it can provide preventive help for sexual abuse against children by the same perpetrators, and also be a warning to all future cases.

"The First Children Embassy in the world - Megjashi managed to make changes in the judicial system and modification of the penal code so that the penalties for perpetrators of such crimes range from 10 to 15 years of imprisonment, and offenses that are committed in a horrible way or by multiple perpetrators and for the repeaters it is envisaged life imprisonment. Also, special penalties will be provided for those who would misuse their official position and commit sexual violence against children, whereas it is punishable with a ban on performing profession, activity or duty of one to ten years, said the representatives from Megjashi.

The Ministry of Labour and Social policy said that it is still waiting for the results of the recent measures that were undertaken, especially after narrowing the legal penalties for pedophiles.

"On several occasions we mentioned that when it comes to children and their protection we will be ruthless. All changes to the legislation are made in order to improve the system for their protection, said from the Ministry.

Father abused his daughter with mental disabilities.
The sentence of 15 years jail for the pedophile Trajce Petkovski from Bogomila, according to the NGOs is too soft and they think that it meets all conditions of life imprisonment under Article 188 of the Criminal Law and the Appeal only acknowledged the original verdict of the Basic Courtin Veles.

According to the indictment, Petkovski on June 13th, 2007, sexually harassed a 12-year-old girl from the village, and it was later found that he sexually abused his 12-year-old daughter, both students at a school for children with special needs, and he also beat his wife.

The incident occurred at night in his house, when the girl, who is diagnosed with epilepsy and developmental disabilities, came to visit her friend, Trajce’s daughter, then the defendant forcibly laid the girl on the bed and began touching and kissing her body. The whole event was followed by the daughter of Petkovski, who has mild mental disabilities, but she alarmed the parents of the girl. They reported the neighbor to the police and the awful story was discovered.

The pedophile Jove Kostadinovski got a prison sentence of 15 years and he sexually attacked two 13 year old boys, dependants of the foster home for care for children and youth without parents and parental care "11 Oktomvri" in Skopje. Kostadinovski who is from Shashavarlija village, in a cottage on the mountain "Plachkovica" for 23 days kept in captivity one of the boys, and sexually harassed him repeatedly. He will go to jail for the third time, in the first case he raped an elder woman and the second time a five-year old girl.

Institutions are still counting how many pedophiles there are.
Until the registry of pedophiles is published, the institutions in Macedonia do not know exactly how many pedophiles there are. As they say, the problem is that until now there have been no systematic communication between the competent institutions, and all have different figures regarding the number of pedophiles.

"Currently we have an older record of how many pedophiles have been registered in the Republic of Macedonia. That is one of the goals of the registry, to have accurate records. According to analyzed court judgments for the period January 2004 to 2009 with a final court judgment 231 persons have been convicted. Of these 191 are the primary offenders, 38 or 16 % are repeat offenders of which 26 are one-time offenders, 12 inmates are multiple offenders, "said representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

According to them, the purpose of the activities undertaken against this asocial phenomenon is primarily to act preventively through education of the children, in order to reduce the number of victims.

"We can talk about an increase or decrease of the pedophilia, but we can talk about raising awareness and thanks to our enhanced activities and public speaking for the committed offenses related to sexual abuse of children and pedophilia we get the impression of an increased number of cases – said representatives from the Ministry,

According to the experiences of the First Children's Embassy in the World - Megjashi that has a free SOS helpline for children and youth 0800 1 22 22 where they can report cases about sexually abusing children, Macedonia is a country in which instead of a decrease there is an increase in the negative trend of pedophilia.

"The percentage of reported cases of the total number of calls to the SOS helpline for children and youth is still low, ie only 1.89 percent are related to possible sexual abuse of children and pedophilia. This fact shows that people are still silent about this phenomenon and is still taboo to talk about it because of shame, fear and stereotypes, -said representatives from Megjashi

They are encouraging the children victims not to be ashamed to report, to not be silent, but to report the case to the adults who they trust, and they emphasize that it is very important that children know they have a right of privacy. If a pedophile tries to attack them they should yell as loud as they can and not stop until someone help them - representatives from Megjashi advise.

"According to the past practice we believe that despite the efforts invested to sufficiently suppress the occurrence of pedophilia and sexual abuse of children much more should be done regarding this complex problem. The new measures or the existence of the registry of persons who convicted crimes of sexual abuse of children and pedophilia will somewhat act preemptively to combat this phenomenon. But maybe it should be considered a semi-open type of availability of these data, where if a parent/guardian or a teacher suspects that in their vicinity is a person that is a pedophile, can ask to check the identity of a given person, in order to protect the children – said from the First Children’s Embassy in the World – Megjashi.

"Mobile bracelets" to monitor pedophiles
To combat this asocial social phenomenon the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Department of Social Affairs, the Centers for Social Work, The First Childre’s Embassy in the World - Megjashi and other institutions announced that they will operate continuously.

"We provided several measures aimed at protection and prevention of sexual abuse of children and pedophilia. We started the campaign "With education and knowledge to prevention of sexual abuse / pedophilia" because education and prevention are crucial in recognizing the forms of abuse. The campaign was conducted by the Institute for Social Affairs and the Red Cross of Macedonia and within it last year and early 2012 many workshops were held in order to increase awareness of the problem with sexual abuse, flyers were made by the Institute, and teams were formed that were tasked to carry out preventive activities in primary and secondary schools. Also, there is the SOS helpline, free phone number 15505 for reporting cases of sexual abuse of children and pedophilia – said the representatives from the Ministry.

Lectures are conducted by professionals in schools, where the children can learn how to recognize sexual harassment against them in order to increase the number of reported cases, if any.

"We can protect ourselves only at such times if we have enough training to recognize and to distinguish whether a man who is familiar to us is true and close friend of the family and is really giving the chocolate as a gift or is it someone else who will take the child in other direction. Hugging a parent is a natural, necessary, primeval feeling which is very different from the touch which could be for the purpose of sexual indulgence. If a child has enough information, that difference can be recognized, -said Tatiana Ristova Dimova, director of the Center for Social Activities “Skopje ".

The First Children's Embassy in the World "Megjashi" consider that maximum sentences should be imposed for the perpetrators of such crimes, and depending on the severity of the crime, such as incest, committing the act of particularly heinous way, or if the offender is a recidivists is what happens in most cases of pedophilia.

"A good measure would be if any form of prison hospital with complete isolation of the perpetrators of these crimes is established, where a professional team will work with them and where the perpetrators of these acts will have the opportunity to participate in generally useful things and everyone will be able to contribute with their skills, and the pedophiles will have no opportunity to be in contact with children. Taken from experience that most perpetrators of such crimes repeat the offense it is necessary for the state to establish a tracking system in the form of Mobile Bracelets (locators) that will be embedded on the offenders after getting out of the penalty so their exact location will be traceable in every moment. - said the representatives from the First Children’s Embassy in the World – Megjashi and they put emphasis on the re-socialization of the offenders, in order not to repeat the offense

* The research is supported by the Project SCOOP and the Danish Association for Investigative Journalism