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Municipality training seminar: Human Rights Promotion and Protection through the Local Ombudsman Institution
On October 6, 2003, a municipality training seminar on Human Rights Promotion and Protection through the Local Ombudsman Institution was held in the city of Razgrad. The event was organized by the Center for the Study of Democracy jointly with the Bulgarian Association for Fair Elections and Civil Rights – Razgrad Club.

Among the participants in the workshop were Ms. Irena Varadinova, MP, Ms. Evgenia Kochanova, Deputy District Governor of Razgrad District, Ms. Dobrinka Moneva, Chair of the Razgrad Municipal Council, Mr. Saduk Alchev, Chief Secretary of the District Administration, representatives of the judiciary, executive and the local self-government authorities, including municipal councilors, religious leaders, representatives of educational, social and health institutions, NGOs, citizens, journalists.

The main topic of the seminar was the experience of the public mediators, who have worked on the basis of pilot projects for establishing ombudsman type institutions in the municipalities of Zavet, Razgrad, Loznitsa and Sofia and the active role of the civil society in this process. Ms. Antoaneta Tzoneva, Sofia Municipality Public Mediator, presented the activity of the Sofia Public Mediator’s Office. Ms. Verginia Micheva, Judge at the Razgrad Regional Court, spoke on the last amendments to the Law on Local Self-Government and Local Administration, which provide municipal councils with the possibility to elect civic mediators and thus set the general legal framework for strengthening the already active local civic mediators, and create prerequisites for the future establishment of similar institutions.

The issues concerning the election, functions, powers and financing of the public mediator, its independence as a main principle in the activity of the institution and its interaction with the local authorities were subject of the discussion that followed.

Mr. Ilian Nikolov, Center for Economic Development – Razgrad, presented the activity of the non-governmental Civic Organizations Initiative. Ms. Ljudmila Georgieva, Common Cause Foundation, delivered a lecture on Parliamentary Practices: Lobbying and Civic Participation.

Ms. Antonia Doneva, Razgrad Deputy District Prosecutor, presented the international practice regarding gender equality and the newly adopted Bulgarian Law on Protection against Discrimination. The discussion of the Law, its implementation and especially the possibilities for the provisions on the protection of the disadvantaged people’s rights on local level raised great interest among the participants.

The participants continued their work in three parallel working group discussions, focused on: Bulgarian Practice in the Establishment of the Ombudsman Institution and the Role of NGOs; Gender Equality and the Bulgarian Legislation; Civic Initiatives for Local Mediation.

Agenda of the seminar
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