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Seminar: Public Opinion and Civic Control on Justice
On 26 March 2009 the Center for the Study of Democracy organized a seminar on Public Opinion and Civic Control on Justice. Guest speaker at the event was Prof. Julian Roberts, Professor of Criminology at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford. Before coming to Oxford in 2005, Julian Roberts was Professor of Criminology and University Research Professor at the University of Ottawa. He obtained his doctorate from the University of Toronto in 1982. From 1991-2005 he served as Editor of the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and has recently assumed the Editorship of the European Journal of Criminology. His research interests include: sentencing; public opinion about crime and criminal justice; restorative justice; victims and the criminal justice system.

Dr. Andrey Nonchev, Deputy Director of Vitosha Research presented the Corruption Monitoring System, which the Center for the Study of Democracy uses since 1998 to gather data on the structure and dynamics of the corruption practices in Bulgaria. According the data the level of corruption decreases from 1998 till 2004, when it starts to raise again. Till the end of 2008 the number of corruption transactions has increased to the level of 2002. Dr. Nonchev highlighted that at the same time the pliability and aptitude towards corruption has substantially decreased and increasing number of people do not accept corruption as a means for dealing with state institutions. Regarding the public opinion on corruption in the judiciary the data shows that according to 66% of the population there is corruption among the judges and prosecutors. 41% of the people also point out the lawyers as mediators in the corruption transactions. The largest share of the bribes (63,4%) is given for nonsuit.

Prof. Julian Roberts, Professor of Criminology at the University of Oxford spoke about the importance of the right and careful interpretation of survey data related to public opinion on crime and justice. According to prof. Roberts the results of public opinion surveys can be strongly influenced by the information available to the public, presented solely by the media and the politicians. He listed several cases, related to the sanctions in criminal law, where due to lack of information the public forms unrealistic expectations about the severity of the sentence.

Mr. Dimitar Markov, Project Coordinator of the Law Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy pointed out that in Bulgaria there is no integrated methodology or consistency of research measuring the public confidence in the judicial system at national level. During the period 1968 - 1990 not even one victimization survey of the public opinion on the criminal justice authorities has been carried out. After 1990 this role was assumed by the civil society, the NGOs and sociological agencies which started to carry out periodical surveys of the public confidence.

During the discussion the participants concluded that Bulgaria, as well as many other EU member states, needs a system of indicators that measures the confidence in justice. This system of indicators could serve as a basis for the elaboration of long-term policies and as means for assessment of the effectiveness of the policies implementation.

The seminar was organized with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Agenda (Adobe PDF, 39 KB)
Presentation on Corruption Monitoring System: Public Opinion on Corruption in the Judiciary by Dr. Andrey Nonchev, (Power Point, 1.3 MB)
Presentation on Public Opinion, Crime and Justice by prof. Julian Roberts, (Power Point, 342 KB)
Presentation on Indicators for Measuring Public Confidence in Justice: State of the Art on National Level by Mr. Dimitar Markov, (Power Point, 542 KB)
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