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INTRODUCING THE OMBUDSMAN INSTITUTION IN BULGARIA
 



In early 1998 the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy began exploring the possibility of introducing an Ombudsman-type institution on a national level to act as a complementary mechanism for monitoring and control over the public administration and an out-of-court means of respecting and restoring the rights of citizens violated by the state or by government officials. As a result an Expert Task Force to the CSD Law Program was formed, which developed a Concept Paper and a Draft Law for Bulgaria.



History of the Draft Law Development Process. Previous Draft Law Versions

The work on introducing Ombudsman Institution in Bulgaria started in 1998 with a comprehensive research and analysis of the existing legal framework and the functioning of this institution in a number of established and new democracies. A number of foreign laws have been translated and distributed including the ones of Austria, Greece, Macedonia, Litva, Poland, Hungary, Spain, United Kingdom, Romania, Sweden, Argentina, Costa Rica (available in Bulgarian only).

The concept developed on the basis of this analysis takes into account the existing needs and public attitudes, and political, legal and constitutional realities in Bulgaria. It formulates a set of recommendations for the future introduction of the Ombudsman, its status and role in the country's political and legal system, and outlines the basic elements of its future legal regulation. In April 1999 the CSD Law Program experts completed the first Draft Law on the People's Defender.

In the beginning of 2000 the work on introducing the Ombudsman Institution in Bulgaria continued further by including substantial changes in the developed Draft Law. The most significant of them were related to the inclusion of provisions about the local civic mediators. These provisions formed a separate Chapter Ten of the Draft Law. The inclusion of provisions about the civic mediators made it necessary other texts of the Draft Law to be amended including its title, which was changed to Draft Law on the People's Defender and the Civic Mediators. Other amendments were made in relation to the powers of the People's Defender and the confidentiality of his documents. In the course of the work the comments and recommendations of the institutions concerned and of foreign experts were discussed and most of them were incorporated in the April 2000 version of the Draft Law on the People's Defender and the Civic Mediators (English, Bulgarian)

On November 8, 2000, a group of MP's presented the Draft Law on Ombudsman together with the explanatory notes to the National Assembly for the beginning of the legislative procedure for its adoption. See the version of the Draft Law on Ombudsman (English, Bulgarian) and the Explanatory Notes (English, Bulgarian) presented to the Parliament.

The National Assembly did not manage to adopt the law before the parliamentary elections in the summer of 2001 the CSD expert group introduced further changes to the Draft Law and in August 2001 prepared an improved version of the Draft Law on the Civic Defender and the Local Civic Mediators. The improved version of the Draft Law together with the revised explanatory notes were presented to the Chair of the 39th National Assembly and to the Chairs of the Parliamentary Committees on Human Rights, on Complaints and Petitions of Citizens, and on Legal Issues.


Public Policy Events

Between March 19 - 25, 2000, Mr. Jeoffry Dubrow, Program Manager of the Parliamentary Centre of Canada, and Mr. Patrick Robardet, Legal Affairs and Research Director, Office of the Public Protector, Quebec, Canada, visited Sofia. They acquainted with the changes made to the Draft Law and presented their comments. The Canadian experts expressed their readiness to cooperate further for introducing the Ombudsman Institution in Bulgaria.

On June 8 - 9, 2000, Mr. Claes Eklundh, Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman of Sweden, visited Sofia for a second time. During his stay he had a series of talks with state institutions representatives concerning the establishment of the institution in Bulgaria. See more

On June 12 - 20, 2000, a Bulgarian Parliamentary Delegation visited Canada on the invitation of the Parliamentary Centre of Canada and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The aim of the visit was to study the Canadian experience in developing the Ombudsman Institution and other accountability mechanisms. See more

On November 24, 2000, an International Conference Establishment of Ombudsman Institution in Bulgaria was held in the National Assembly in Sofia. It was jointly organized by the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights, Religions, Complaints and Petitions of the Citizens, American Bar Association - Central and East European Law Initiative, Union of Jurists in Bulgaria and the Center for the Study of Democracy. See more

From February 28 till March 3, 2002, a Round Table Discussion on the establishment of the Ombudsman Institution in Bulgaria was organized by CSD Law Program with the support of Open Society Foundation - Sofia. The event was attended by the CSD Law Program experts who developed the Draft Law on the Civic Defender and the Local Civic Mediators and by judges, lawyers and representatives of civil organizations actively involved in the process of establishing the Ombudsman Institution in Bulgaria. See more

As a follow up of the Round Table Discussion, on March 3, 2002, CSD hosted a workshop on the establishment of the Ombudsman Institution in Bulgaria, organized by the CSD Law Program with the support of Open Society Foundation - Sofia. See more


Publications

In September 2000 the CSD Law Program published the edition Ombudsman Institution: Concept Paper and Draft Law for Bulgaria. Foreign Legislation. The collection contains the concept paper on the legal opportunities for establishing this institution in Bulgaria together with the Draft Law on the People's Defender and the Civic Mediators. See more

 
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