EU Ambassadors Note Progress of Bulgaria's Judicial Reform
At a meeting with Bulgarian Justice Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva on Tuesday, the ambassadors of the EU member states, Norway, Switzerland noted the progress of Bulgaria's judicial reform.
The meeting was a joint initiative of Zaharieva and Dutch ambassador to Bulgaria, His Excellency Tom van Oorschot, who represented the Dutch presidency of the Council of the EU.
The meeting was also attended by Ognyan Zlatev, head of the European Commission representation in Bulgaria, as well as the three deputy justice ministers.
During the working discussion, Zaharieva presented to the ambassadors the second part of the amendments to the Judicial System Act, which had been discussed and adopted by the Council for judicial reform.
Van Oorschot thanked Zaharieva that she had invited the ambassadors again five months after their last working meeting in order to discuss the important reforms of the judiciary.
The minister's will and efforts to bring changes to Bulgaria's judiciary had been noted by the ambassadors at the previous meeting.
Zaharieva reminded that the first part of the bill for amendments to the Judicial System Act were tabled to the parliament in March and immediately after that work began on the second part.
Recently, the texts were adopted by the Council for judicial reform and at present the minister was organising meetings with all parliamentary represented parties.
She expressed hope that there will be broad support for this important legislation, with the idea being to table it to the Council of Ministers on June 15.
Zaharieva added that the new amendments had been subject to discussion at four consecutive meetings of the Council for judicial reform, which together had lasted for more than forty hours.
The minister noted that 4/5 of the draft was adopted unanimously by the members of the council, while a productive discussion took place on the remaining part with some good proposals suggested and included.
During the meeting, Zaharieva presented to the ambassadors some of the important amendments to the legislation which consolidate the principle of judicial self-rule, entrust the inspectorate to the Supreme Judicial Council with new powers, regulate the career development of magistrates, reform the selection and statute of jury members and introduce additional rules for judicial exams.
With the proposed amendments, the prosecutor's office will be united but not centralised, with prosecutors and investigators no longer to be subordinate to the chief prosecutor.
The new bill also increases the accountability of the chief prosecutor and the administrative heads in the prosecution.
Van Oorschot commended the progress achieved by Zaharieva and her team in the past five months, who were guiding the reform in the right direction.
According to him, the proposed changes provide the basis for creating trust in an independent and impartial judicial system.
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