Bulgaria's Govt Approves Updated Judicial Reform Strategy
Bulgaria's government on Wednesday approved an updated strategy for judicial reform that aims to increase the accountability of judges and make the justice system more transparent and predictable.
The updated strategy which comprises an action plan for the next seven years was passed to members of parliament for deliberations. It was approved amidst heightened debate over deficiencies in the system for random allocation of cases to judges that has often been suspected of allowing exerting political or economic pressure on the judiciary.
The approval of the updated strategy comes before the release of the European Commission’s monitoring report on Bulgaria under the EU’s Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, a key tool for boosting the efficiency of the country’s justice system and bringing it in line with the bloc’s standards.
The report, to be published in early 2015, is expected to slam Bulgaria for failure to ensure the independence of its judiciary from political and economic influence since joining the EU in 2007.
Justice Minister Hristo Ivanov told reporters after the cabinet meeting a package of legislative amendments that should be discussed over the next six months will be key to the success of the judicial reform.
The updated strategy provides for introducing independent international assessment of the activities of the prosecution arm of the judiciary with the aim of preventing the potential use of prosecutors’ powers for political ends.
The document also calls for dividing the Supreme Judicial Council into two units - one for judges and one for prosecutors, as well as direct election of its members.
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