"Members of the Supreme Judicial Council,

By this letter we would like to share our concern over your failure to adequately address issues of high relevance to the professional community of magistrates and to society in general, i.e. the independence of the judiciary and the authority and respect its members command in society. We have repeatedly put forth for consideration specific measures, which we consider imperative, if trust in the judiciary is to be restored, notably by protecting court independence from political pressure, the influence of economic and power lobbies and various mechanisms for unlawful administrative intervention that are deeply rooted in the system, including the low level of tolerance for conflict of interest and trading in influence..."

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Constitution Day. Professional holiday of the Bulgarian lawyers and court officials.
Dear colleagues, happy professional holiday!
We wish you health and the very real cause for joy and satisfaction in your living room dedicated effort to apply the law accurately and fairly, to assert the independence of the courts and the highest values ​​of the rule of law.


"We are writing to support the proposed Resolution on Bulgaria and, in particular, continuation of the post-monitoring dialogue.
We represent a group of the leading Rule of Law and Human Rights NGOs in Bulgaria, and based on our work we would like to share our assessment of the progress of the judicial reform in our country.  In what follows, we would like to briefly substantiate our conclusions that:
•the principal challenge faced by the Bulgarian judicial branch is that its independence continues to be seriously undermined;
•the key factor eroding judicial independence has been pressure by the government and political and economic vested interests;
•fundamental structural reforms are needed to eliminate the institutional basis for corruption and political and economic pressure;
•sustainable reforms in Bulgaria can only be ensured by international involvement.
We believe that these conclusions provide a strong argument in favor of the concerns and the recommendations of the draft Resolution, as well as for preserving the post-monitoring dialogue as a means of ensuring that they will be addressed by Bulgarian authorities...."
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Duration: 3 years

Grant:     420,000.00 BGL


Project Goals
Build a stronger judiciary adhering to higher professional and ethical standards and ensure judicial participation, expertise and experience as an indispensable reform resource.
Project Objectives. In pursuing this goal the Project will focus on the following objectives: 
1.Provide more judges with the institutional means to be involved in reforming the judicial branch and to voice their perspective;
2.Develop a set of key policies for the judicial reform and establish the model for judicial involvement in policymaking;
3.Strengthen BJA and reinforce its capacity to work nationally with its broader membership base (including young judges and judges from outside Sofia) as a key factor in rallying Bulgarian judges around high standards of professional integrity and a shared vision for the reform of the justice branch.
Policy development
Six key challenges for the judicial reform will be identified and detailed policy proposal for them will be developed and put forward. This process will both provide much needed judicial expertise for the judicial reform and help developing BJA as a platform for judicial empowerment. The identification of the challenges (respectively the areas of policy work) will happen with the input of judges and working of groups of judges will be formed for each area. This can be done at the Annual BJA Conference: in advance of the event the participants will be asked to fill in questionnaires on their perceptions of the most important challenges facing Bulgarian court. At the conference the outcomes of the polling will be presented and discussed and working groups will be formed for each of the three areas that were selected. The proceedings of the working groups will be reflected in detail on BJA web page and Bulletin and will be coordinated with civil sector experts. Outcomes of the working groups will be presented at the regional round-tables and at the next Annual BJA Conference where they will become official position of the BJA. BJA then will advocate for the adoption of the developed policy proposals. Members of the NIJ Network, judges from outside Sofia and the BJA’s local chapters will be specifically engaged to ensure that their perspectives and experience are reflected in the policy work.
For illustrative purposes, this is a provisional list of some possible areas of work:
•Case-load measurement and management;
•Governance in the judicial branch and the Status of court presidents;
•Judicial Ethics;
•Evaluation of judicial performance;
•Media-Judicial Relations;
•Quality of the acts of the Court.
Enabling activities
The implementation of the Project will be facilitated by several tools and activities. Simultaneously, these will contribute greatly for the overall institutional capacity-building of the BJA.  
National Institute of Justice Alumni Network. An online network of the NIJ Alumni will be established and based on the BJA web-page. A national conference for the members of the network will be held. The participating NJA Alumni will be involved in all other project activities. 
Round-tables. Quarterly Regional round-tables will be organized to ensure the inclusion of judges from all regions of Bulgaria in the development of the Project policies and the general work of BJA. They will ensure that judges from outside Sofia and from the BJA’s regional chapters will be engaged in the work on the Policies. 
Annual BJA Conference. Annual BJA Conferences will be conducted during the course of the Project with a view of making this a sustained practice. These events will be used as culmination of BJA efforts to engage judges nationally in its work and in the development of the Project Policies. 
Web-page. The existing BJA Web-page will be redesigned to become a dynamic communication tool with a primary goal of becoming the basis of a new dialogue within the judicial profession on all challenges it faces today in Bulgaria. It will be a key instrument for engaging the BJA membership base, provision of services, mobilizing judicial expertise and conveying the new image of BJA and the judicial profession as a whole. 
The America for Bulgaria Foundation assists in growing and strengthening a vibrant market economy and democratic society in Bulgaria, helping the country to realize its full potential as a successful, modern European nation. Founded in 2008, the ABF is a successor to the Bulgarian American Enterprise Fund, an investment fund created by the U.S. government acting through the U.S. Agency for International Development. The grants provided by ABF build on the legacy of goodwill and friendship that exists between the American people and the citizens of Bulgaria.


On 09.12.2011 the Bulgarian Judges Association was honored by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee with the award "Person of the Year" among 33 nominated individuals and organizations.

The award was received by Miroslava Todorova - Chairperson of the Bulgarian Judges Association.

Visit to Sofia on 27-28/January/2011

"In 2009 after information submitted by the Bulgarian Judges Association (BJA) an EAJ rapporteur reported on the dubious appointment of the president of the Sofia Court of Appeal. On the advice of the Working Group of the EAJ no further action was taken by the EAJ because there did not appear to be a general problem the EAJ should deal with..."

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