Lax Control, Clientelism Plague Bulgaria's Judiciary - Chief Inspector

Domestic | July 2, 2011, Saturday // 11:28|  views

Bulgaria's judiciary is plagued with clientelism, according to Chief Inspector Anna Karaivanova. Photo by BGNES

The Bulgarian judiciary is plagued with numerous clientelist appointments, which is a major reason for its problems, according to Anna Karaivanova, Chief Inspector at the Inspectorate of the Bulgarian Supreme Judicial Council.

Karaivanova believes that the clientelist appointments is the most important cause for the many overdue rulings, she told Darik Radio Saturday.

At the same time, she praised the existence of the Inspectorate at the Supreme Judicial Council (VSS), the top institution of the Bulgarian judiciary which has under fire from various sides, including Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, for a long list of problems – ranging from inefficiency to corruption.

The Inspectorate, which is technically an independent body, was set up with amendments to the Bulgarian Constitution made in 2007 under EU pressure for judicial reform, and is supposed to keep an eye on the legal and disciplinary performance of the Bulgarian magistrates.

According to the Chief Inspector of the Bulgarian judiciary, independence (of the judicial branch) withouth accountability tends to turn into arbitrariness, while the Inspectorate of the VSS should create balance between them.

"The situation with the overdue rulings is worst in Sofia where court rulings are pronounced almost all the time within a period of over three months, when both the Penal Procedure Code and the Civil Procedure Code say the deadline is one month. The magistrates have decided for themselves that three months is a prudent deadline. The judges in Sofia do that because of a lack of control," Karainova stated.

"There are judges with over 85% of delayed rulings. How is this happening? We are looking for an explanation. I think there are too many clientelist appointments. This is the explanation and this is where we need to dig," she said, adding that she has submitted a presentation of the problem with specific examples to the Parliament.

In July, Bulgaria is expecting the annual monitoring report of the European Commission under the so called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, which has been observing Bulgaria's post-accession progress in "problem areas" such as countering organized crime and corruption, and judicial reform. Bulgaria's Justice Minister Margarita Popova recently expressed optimism saying she expected a "positive" assessment of the situation of the Bulgarian judiciary.

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Tags: Anna Karaivanova, VSS, Supreme Judicial Council, judiciary, judicial system, judicial reform, judges, courts, court case, inspectorate, Inspectorate at the Supreme Judicial Council, chief inspectors


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