site.btaProsecutors Insist on Guarantees of Prosecution Service's Self-Government, Independence
The Association of Prosecutors in the Republic of Bulgaria (APRB) insists on guarantees for the self-government and independence of the prosecution service, it transpired from a position of the organization prompted by draft constitutional amendments that the parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Affairs is scheduled to discuss at a public meeting later on Tuesday.
The APRB argues that the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) reflects the unity of the functions of administration of justice, prosecution and investigation which are performed, respectively, by the courts, the prosecution offices and the investigative authorities which together exercise the judiciary power.
"Restructuring the judiciary by the abolition of the SJC in its present form and its replacement by two new councils constitutes a change of the form of government, which falls beyond the powers of an ordinary National Assembly," the Association claims.
It suggests that less radical changes be sought, such as a change in the powers of the SJC Plenum and chambers, in order to ensure non-intervention among the separate magistrates' estates for the purposes of the reform.
The Association wants the introduction of an "anti-blocking mechanism" for the prevention of crises in the judiciary caused by a failure to elect on time the members of the respective judicial authorities from the quotas of the National Assembly. The organization proposes specific revisions of the provisions on the constitutional structure and powers of the prosecution service and the prosecutor general's competence.
The position highlights the need for Parliament to ensure sufficient time and attention to the public debate and work on the draft amendments.
The amendments in question, moved by GERB-UDF, Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms on July 28, would restructure the SJC as an administrative and personnel-management authority for judges only and would establish a separate Prosecutors Council of ten members: two elected directly by prosecutors, one elected directly by investigating magistrates, six elected by parliament from among representatives of various legal professions and organizations, and the prosecutor general, who would be an ex officio member. The Prosecutors Council would exercise the key career and disciplinary powers with regard to prosecutors. The structure of the prosecution service would be decentralized.
The prosecutor general would be appointed by the Prosecutors Council on the initiative of the minister of justice or of three members of the Prosecutors Council. The term of office of the prosecutor general would be reduced to five years from seven years now.
The amendments set up a special mechanism for the investigation of the prosecutor general. If suspected of committing a publicly prosecutable offence, he or she would be investigated by a special prosecutor who has served as a criminal judge at a supreme or appellate court when appointed. The appointment procedure would be established by law.
The revisions would limit the functions of the prosecution service to criminal procedure, divesting it of the powers to exercise general supervision as to legality of acts and steps of state bodies.