On 20 and 21 June, representatives of the Department for the Execution of Judgments took part in a round table in Sofia on the Strasbourg Court’s judgments against Bulgaria concerning ineffective investigations into violations of the right to life and the prohibition of ill-treatment, including the need to ensure that investigations targeting a Chief Prosecutor are independent.
The participants made a number of concrete proposals for reforms of the Bulgarian criminal procedure concerning, inter alia, rules for initiation of criminal investigation and the possibility to introduce judicial review of prosecutorial refusals to initiate investigation.
As concerns the investigation regarding a Chief Prosecutor, the representatives of the Department recalled the need to insure sufficient hierarchical, institutional and practical independence at all stages (including a preliminary inquiry) and in all situations. While welcoming the authorities’ readiness to work on a legislative proposal, they noted that the draft bill of 14 June 2019 does not address the risks for the independence and the effectiveness of an investigation against a Chief Prosecutor at the pre-trial stage and could indeed make investigation more difficult to initiate. As many participants expressed doubts about the possibility to design safeguards meeting the requirements of the Strasbourg Court’s case-law under the current constitutional framework, the Deputy Head of the Department recalled that a constitutional reform can also constitute an adequate implementation measure.
National participants included Mr Danail Kirilov, Minister of Justice, Deputy Ministers of Justice, high-ranking judges and prosecutors, law professors and other experts. Mr Yonko Grozev, judge of the European Court of Human Rights, also attended the event.