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Letter to the President of the Bulgarian National Assembly, regarding the proposal of amendments of the Judicial System

MEDELTo Her Excellency, The President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria Ms. TSETSKA TSACHEVA DANGOVSKA.

Your Excellency, MEDEL (Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés), an organization of European judges and prosecutors created with the main purpose to defend the independence of the judiciary, democracy and human rights, currently comprises 22 national associations from 15 European countries, including Bulgaria, and is an observer member of the CCPE and the CCJE (within the Council of Europe).
It has come to our knowledge that the Bulgarian National Assembly is discussing amendments to the Judiciary System Act, and that included in those amendments is a proposal by the Parliamentary legislative committee that demands judges and prosecutors to declare before the Supreme Judicial Council their membership in professional organizations. According to the same proposals, the Supreme Judicial Council would maintain a registry containing these declarations.

As they are  now presented, the above mentioned proposals would constitute a serious breach of the fundamental right of judges and prosecutors to freely belong to professional associations, enshrined, inter alia, in article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which Bulgaria has ratified. Not only would the non associated magistrates be compelled not to join any professional association, but also the current members would feel pressure to leave the associations they already joined.

The right of magistrates to join professional associations is not only a fundamental right of all judges and prosecutors, but also a guarantee of citizens’ rights, as the free association of magistrates contributes in a decisive way to promote the professional debate among magistrates and to protect and defend the rights of magistrates before the other powers of the State, thus contributing to the effective independence of the Judiciary.

The right to have access to an independent justice system is not a privilege of judges and prosecutors – it is a fundamental right of each and every citizen. And the freedom of association of magistrates is a serious contribution to the promotion of that independence.
MEDEL is certain that the goal of the amendments being discussed in the Bulgarian National Assembly is exclusively the promotion of the independence and effectiveness of the Judiciary, and strongly believes that in no way the Parliamentary groups would accept such a breach of the fundamental right of freedom of association. It is therefore with utmost respect that MEDEL alerts all Members of Parliament for the above mentioned situation, certain that they will comply with their duty of respecting the international binding conventions that Bulgaria has ratified.

MEDEL respectfully asks your Excellency, Madam President, to transmit the content of this letter to all Parliamentary groups.

Sincerely,

Gualtiero MICHELINI
President of MEDEL

Berlin, July 25, 2016

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