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Study visit to Spain: Examining the Spanish Experience in Establishing the Ombudsman Institution
From June 25 till July 2, 2003, a study visit to Spain (Madrid and Barcelona) took place under the Ombudsman Institution program. The group included representatives of the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary, as well as experts, involved in the preparation of the legislation and the practical introduction of the ombudsman institution in Bulgaria. During the visit the participants got acquainted with the legislative framework and some practical aspects of the activities of the Spanish People's Defender and the People's Defender of Catalonia. The problems related to the establishment of the ombudsman institution in Bulgaria were also presented.

In Madrid the participants met the Spanish People's Defender Mr. Enrique Mugica Herzog, his Second Deputy Mr. Manuel Aguilar Belda, the Secretary General of the institution Maria del Mar Marti and officials from the People's Defender's administrative staff. Working meetings were also held with the assistants of the People's Defender responsible for different areas of the institution's activities – security and internal affairs, justice and home violence, public administration, immigration and social problems, education and culture, healthcare and social policy.

Bulgarian representatives had the opportunity to hear the presentation of the Annual Report of the Spanish People's Defender before the Senate and met the Chair of the joint Commission of the Senate and the Congress responsible for the relations with the People's Defender.

In Barcelona the participants had a series of working meetings with the People's Defender of Catalonia Mr. Anton Canellas, his Deputy on Children Issues Mr. Jordi Cots, the Secretary General of the institution Ms. Elisabeth Abella, the Head of the People's Defender cabinet Ms. Margarita Cusco, the Head of the Public Relations and Media Department, as well as other officials from the institution.

Parallel to the presentation of the main characteristics and the experience of the People's Defender the participants were briefed on the history, composition, powers and relations between the main public institutions in Catalonia. A meeting was held with the members of the Parliamentary Commission on the Ombudsman of Catalonia, with the Deputy Mayor of the city of Barcelona – Mr. Jose Ignacio Cuervo, and with representatives of the autonomous government of Catalonia.

The study visit laid sound foundations for cooperation with the People's Defenders of Spain and Catalonia in the process of establishing and strengthening the ombudsman institution in Bulgaria. As a follow up of the visit the participants developed an Action Plan outlining the further activities to be undertaken for promoting the process based on the partnership between the state institutions and the non-governmental organizations.

Action Plan for Introducing the Ombudsman Institution in Bulgaria
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