|On February 25, 2003, the city of Pazardzhik hosted an information day on the establishment of the ombudsman institution on local level in Bulgaria. The event was organized jointly by the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Regional Fund IGA, Pazardzhik.|
Members of the Municipal Council, representatives of the civil and municipal administration of Pazardzhik, non-governmental organizations, journalists from the local and national media, as well as many citizens took part in the event.
During the seminar Ms. Antoaneta Tzoneva, Sofia Municipality Local Civic Mediator, delivered a lecture on the procedures of submitting and considering complaints at the local civic mediator's office and pointed out the opportunities the civic mediator is provided with to assist the citizens in solving their problems. She presented the mediators' activities and outlined that the largest percent of the complaints refers to the municipal housing problems, followed by the issues raised in pursuant to the implementation of the Law on the Organization of the Territory and those related to ecology.
Ms. Krassimira Natan, expert at the office of the Sofia Municipality Local Civic Mediator, made a review on the historical development and the existing models of the ombudsman institutions in Southeastern Europe, and presented the functions and activities of the European Ombudsman. Ms. Natan emphasized on the main characteristics of that type of institution: independence, autonomy and personal authority of the ombudsman, as well as the provided opportunities to monitor the administration and to submit recommendations for improving its work. She also paid special attention to the annual report of the ombudsman.
Mr. Svetoslav Georgiev, expert at the office of the Sofia Municipality Local Civic Mediator, made a comparative analysis of the Draft Laws on the Ombudsman introduced to the 39th National Assembly and adopted on first reading. He underlined the necessity of constitutional regulation of the institution on central level and the adoption of detailed regulations on the local ombudsman type institutions.
Mr. Ivan Avramov, Deputy District Governor of Pazardzhik District, expressed the district administration's support to the establishment of ombudsman type institutions on local level in the region. He pointed out the large number of complaints submitted to the district administration, which are outside the scope of competence of the district governor: within the last year their number was over 535.
Mr. Dimitar Russinov, Chair of the Center for the Social Integration of Criminals and Risk Groups and Project Manager of Regional Fund IGA, gave an example of specialized ombudsmen by presenting the English practice of establishing ombudsmen in the prisons. The ombudsman is guaranteed the access to all levels of information, the classified information included. Mr. Russinov expressed the opinion that the specialized institutions of that kind have to be introduced after the establishment of the ombudsman on national level, which do not exclude the promotion of ombudsmen on local level.
The topics discussed provoked great interest and many questions about the legal regulation of the ombudsman in Bulgaria, its powers and the future of this type of institution on local level were raised.
Agenda of the information day