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Presentation of the report Reinforcing Criminal Justice in Border Districts
On October 18, 2007, in the Kyustendil District Court the Center for the Study of Democracy presented its report entitled Reinforcing Criminal Justice in Border Districts. The meeting was attended by judges and prosecutors from Kyustendil courts and prosecution offices, representatives of Kyustendil District Investigation Service, the Regional Border Unit, the police, etc.

In his opening remarks the Chair of the Kyustendil District Court Mr. Krasimir Bambov welcomed the guests and underlined the increasing importance of countering trans-border crime at the Bulgarian-Turkish, Bulgarian-Macedonian and the Black sea borders.

Dr. Maria Yordanova, Director of the CSD Law Program, presented the structure of the report and mentioned its basic parts: review of the legal framework of the investigation and punishment of trans-border criminality, analysis of the criminal justice and law enforcement in individual border districts, the international judicial cooperation in criminal matters and the recommendations to the respective institutions in order to improve the work on revealing, investigating and penalizing the trans-border crimes.

Mr. Dimitar Markov, Project Coordinator in the CSD Law Program, talked for the peculiarity of the border areas – in addition to the more or less usual offences encountered in virtually any region of the country, they are affected by specific criminality seen nowhere else (e.g. illegal border crossings, trafficking in persons, etc.). There are alarming statistics that the lack of clear statutory criteria for qualifying certain offences as crimes often results in opening administrative files for serious offences where the perpetrator should actually face criminal liability.

Ms. Neli Kutzkova, Judge in the Sofia District Court, described the CSD experts’ work on the preparation of the report and the main phases in this process: engaging experts in criminal law, sociologists, representatives of law enforcement and judicial bodies; collecting information for trans-border crimes from all institutions, engaged with their detection, investigation and punishment (collecting statistical data, discussions in focus groups and interviews); analyzing the problems and proposing possibilities for their solution.
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