site.btaJudicial System Act Amended on First Reading
After a nearly four-hour debate, the Bulgarian Parliament Thursday passed on first reading two bills amending the Judicial System Act. The bills were submitted by the Council of Ministers and Vazrazhdane.
The Council of Ministers' bill regulates the power of the two Chambers of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to adopt Codes of Ethical Conduct of Bulgarian Judges and of Bulgarian Prosecutors and Investigators, taking into account the specifics of the two Chambers and the different professional status and duties of the magistrates. The Judges Chamber and the Prosecutors Chamber each have one month after the law enters into force to adopt the Code of Ethical Conduct and submit it for approval to the SJC Plenum.
The bill broadens the competence of the SJC Inspectorate, allowing it to make proposals to the two Chambers for streamlining of the Codes in line with good practices, European and international standards.
The bill moved by Vazrazhdane introduces mechanisms for stricter control of the activity of the Prosecutor General and the administrative leaders of the judiciary's bodies.
The bill proposes more specific requirements for legal experience and professional qualification of the SJC members elected by Parliament.
The bill introduces a method for conducting an effective investigation against the Prosecutor General, with the idea that if there is sufficient evidence of a publicly indictable offence, the Director of the National Investigation Service should initiate pre-trial proceedings and notify the SJC to suspend the Prosecutor General from office. Vazrazhdane proposes broadening of the powers of the Director of the National Investigation Service, who acquires the status of acting prosecutor in charge of the investigation when the proceedings are initiated. The bill also proposes that an SJC member, the Presidents of the Supreme Courts, the Prosecutor General, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation against the Prosecutor General or his deputies be suspended from office until the completion of criminal proceedings against them when they are charged with an intentional publicly indictable offence.