With crowded jails, North Macedonia adopts pandemic amnesty

March 21, 2023 GMT

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonia’s parliament has adopted a legislative amendment to pardon people facing imprisonment for violating COVID-19 safety rules.

Lawmakers late Monday voted 76-1 in favor of the amnesty which will affect more than 200 people currently facing trial as well as more than 90 people reportedly serving prison sentences.

North Macedonia had one of the highest fatality rates in the world from the coronavirus, in part due to late access to vaccines. It imposed strict penalties for safety violations, on charges of facilitating the transmission of an infectious disease and failure to comply with health regulations during a pandemic.

According to the court data, 1,223 people were fined up to 2,000 euros ($2,140) for violating pandemic protocols, and 205 of them were facing jail time for failing to pay the fine.

The amnesty, which applies to citizens and not legal entities, will allow those already serving prison sentences to apply for immediate release.

The amnesty was proposed following recommendations from prison and prosecution authorities to reduce crowding in prisons.