After Changes in Law, Parliament to Elect Ombudsman with Open Vote
Sofia, February 22 (BTA) - Following changes in the Ombudsman Act voted conclusively by the Bulgarian Parliament on Thursday, the National Ombudsman will be elected in an open and not a secret vote of the legislature. The opposition Socialist party opposed the change and said it is a step back from established principles, will be to the detriment of the institution of the Ombudsman and will prevent good candidates from receiving parliamentary support.
Under the new revisions, the ombudsman may be nominated by MPs and the groups in Parliament, as well as by non-government organizations. Experience in human rights protection was added as a qualifying requirement.
The deputy ombudsman will be nominated by the ombudsman and voted in office in an open vote by Parliament.
The guiding principles in the selection and appointment of staff members in the Ombudsman's Office will be transparency, efficiency, pluralism and non-discrimination.
The powers of the ombudsman are expanded to include making proposals and recommendations for protecting the rights and freedoms of the citizens against private individuals, and monitoring and encouraging the implementation of signed and ratified international acts in the area of human rights.
The revisions add a requirement for notifying the ombudsman of the preparation of legislation to ensure better enforcement of his or her powers as a national prevention mechanism.