Announcement, 10.02.2017: The woman in labor wasn’t given her deceased baby to bury but was removed as medical waste – a case that was documented for violation of the right to health that is violation of personal rights of Roma patients in Bitola hospital.

         Association ROMA SOS Prilep welcomed the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Bitola (No-881/16 of 30.08.2016) in the case of A.J. and E.Kj. as a positive example of extreme importance to the case law, given that the plaintiffs relied on jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

It is a case of a 20-year-old mother who in 2012 gave birth to a male child at the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at PHI Clinical Hospital “Dr. Trifun Panovski” Bitola. Two days later, the child was spotted discoloration of the body and was placed in an incubator. Parents were not allowed to see the baby and were not given information about the health condition. The next morning they received information that the child had died of unknown causes. The body hadn’t been returned to the parents.

In 2015 was filed a lawsuit before Primary Court Bitola against PHI Clinical Hospital “Dr. Trifun Panovski” Bitola for compensation for violation of personal rights or due to suffering mental anguish because of treating the body of the dead child as medical waste without parental permission. Plaintiffs were represented by the lawyer Blagoj Dimovski, LL.M. from the law firm “Petlichkovski” from Bitola. [1]

In 2016 after held 5 hearings was reached a judgment rejected the lawsuit, after which was filed an appeal to the Court of appeal in Bitola.

         The Court of Appeal-Bitola acting on the appeal has reached a judgment partially adopting the claim and obliging the defendant to pay the parents, on the grounds of violation of their personal rights, the amount of 30.000,00 denars, with penalty interest.

Namely, The Court of Appeal-Bitola upheld the arguments of the plaintiffs that in this concrete case with the health institution not notifying the parents about the possibility of raising the body of their deceased child (although it was requested prior to the autopsy), and after the autopsy acting with the body as medical waste and denying the parents their right to know the resting place and to perform religious duties, was committed a violation of the right to privacy of personal and family life which right is subject to protection and security in accordance with article 8 of the European Convention on human rights.

 An audit was filed before The Supreme Court of the Republic of Macedonia because it is considered that the awarded compensation is too small given the violation of the rights of the plaintiffs, though it is more than certain that no amount will correct failures and mistakes made by the health institution.

         We believe that the application of the European Convention on Human Rights in Macedonia’s judiciary will have an impact in the future to undertake some general and specific measures in terms of legal regulation of such situations and preventing them to recur in the future.

[1] The case was supported within the project Roma Health – basic human right, funded by the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia.