|Geoffrey Dubrow, Program Manager of the Canadian Parliamentary Center, Patrick Robardet, Director of Legal Affairs and Research of the People’s Defender of Quebec, Canada, Patrick Boyer, former Parliamentarian and expert on the establishment of the Ombudsman institution, visited Bulgaria to participate in discussion meetings on the introduction of the Ombudsman institution in our country. Mr. Antonio Rovira, First Deputy of the People’s Defender of Spain, and Mr. Reynold Blum, consultant on the project “Citizen participation, Public Hearings, and the Development of Improved Public Policy in Bulgaria”, which is jointly implemented by the Center for the Study of Democracy and the University Association “Santander”, joined them on November 9 and 10, 1999.
The foreign experts held a series of meetings with Bulgarian Parliamentarians, representatives of the executive power and local government, and Bulgarian experts, where the problems of the Ombudsman institution were discussed.
On November 9, 1999 they met the Chairman of the Supreme Administrative Court Mr. Vladislav Slavov, and the Chairman of the National Assembly Mr. Yordan Sokolov, and presented the experience of the Ombudsman institution in Canada and Spain. Mr. Sokolov and Mr. Slavov expressed their support for the establishment of the Ombudsman institution in our country, stressing the necessity to clearly define the sphere of its powers in conformity with the Bulgarian Constitution. After the meetings a Public Hearing on the Draft Law on the People’s Defender, which was developed by the Law Program of CSD within the framework of the Coalition 2000 process, was held in Parliament.
On November 10, 1999 the foreign experts met Vice-president Todor Kavaldjiev, who expressed his support for the initiative of introducing the People’s Defender institution in our country, based on the experience of other countries and with respect to the specific conditions in Bulgaria. Mr. Kavaldjiev stated he was confident that such an institution should work in cooperation with non-government organizations in Bulgaria.
On November 11, 1999 a discussion on the Draft Law on the People’s Defender was held at the Center for the Study of Democracy with the participation of representatives of not-for-profit organizations working on the establishment of the institution in our country, representatives of the Ministry of Justice and European Legal Integration, members of the Task Force on the development of the Draft Law, and journalists.