Justice Ministry demands international expert appraisal of Bulgaria’s prosecuting authority

Justice Ministry demands international expert appraisal of Bulgaria’s prosecuting authority

14 October 2014

A proposal for updates to the judicial reform strategy drafted by the team of caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Hristo Ivanov envisages an independent international expert appraisal of the state of Bulgaria’s prosecuting authority.

The project, which is being presented at the Justice Ministry, envisages for the international expert appraisal is to be conducted in 2015. The research team tasked with the analysis is to include international and Bulgarian experts, according to Sega daily.

The efficiency of the prosecuting authority will be evaluated by studying a set of cases. The conclusions and recommendations of the experts will be the subject of public discussion.

The leading authority under the initiative is to be the Supreme Judicial Council (VSS), with the prosecuting authority as its partner.

The paper states that achieving an efficient prosecuting authority involves studying the status of prosecutors and the factors restricting their professional independence, efficiency, responsibility, and motivation.

The strategy emphasizes that the prosecuting authority belongs to the judiciary and that it is an important guarantee for the independence of the Court.

The aim of the updates to the judicial reform strategy is to complete the process in 7 years.

According to the document, the current state of the judicial system benefits various political and economic forces.

The authors of the reform proposals stress that there are members of the judiciary who derive benefits from the failure to implement the legal changes and they are unwilling to support them. They point out that the fact that the judicial reform has reached a standstill makes Bulgaria stand out more and more against the backdrop of the other new EU Member States, which causes substantial damage to Bulgaria’s reputation in the EU.

The paper reiterates the proposal to introduce the direct constitutional complaint.

There is also a proposal to restructure disciplinary action in order to make it compatible with international standards and recommendations.

Under the project, the procedure is to be held before the Supreme Court of Cassation (VKS) which will be the only competent authority to impose disciplinary penalties to magistrates.

Another proposal envisages creating the opportunity to open disciplinary proceedings against the Chairs of Bulgaria’s two supreme courts and the Chief Prosecutor.

The document also proposes dividing the VSS into two colleges, one for judges and one for prosecutors, with each of the two being in charge of the disciplinary proceedings and career developments of the respective guild.

Under the project, the state of the authorities involved in pre-trial proceedings and investigations is also to be evaluated, as well as the efficiency of the specialized structures such as administrative and military courts and organized crime courts.

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