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Discussion: Spanish Experience in Reforming Judiciary: Lessons for Bulgarian Transition


On April 30, 2003, a discussion on Spanish Experience in Reforming Judiciary took place in Madrid. Three CSD senior staff representatives: Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman, Mr. Vladimir Yordanov, Executive Director, and Dr. Maria Yordanova, Director of the Law Program, as well as Mr. Joaquin Delgado Martin, Head of Department in the General Judicial Council in Spain, Mr. Celso Rodriguez Padron, Secretary General of the General Judicial Council, and Mr. Juan Pablo Gonzalez Gonzalez, President of the International Relations Committee at the Council took part in the discussion.

During the discussion the Spanish model of reforming the judiciary and the role of the General Judicial Council in this process were debated. Mr. Joaquin Delgado Martin presented the main specifics of the Spanish transition, particularly as regards the judiciary, the progress of reforms, and the current situation of the judicial system - its governance and administration. Among the most important issues discussed were the functions and competences of the Judicial Council and the Spanish Ministry of Justice, and the political consensus as a key prerequisite for successful reforms.

Mr. Celso Rodriguez Padron presented the activities carried out for strengthening the judiciary in Spain. The lessons learned from the experience of the Spanish Judicial Council were reviewed, which could be useful for avoiding similar difficulties and complications in Bulgaria. The successfully implemented principle of dividing the political and administrative governance of the Judiciary is also a positive example to be followed in relation to reforming the judiciary in Bulgaria. The judicial reform is a political process and therefore the main message to Bulgaria would be the reaching of political consensus on the main steps of the judicial reform following the Spanish model of entering into a State Pact on the judicial reform.

Mr. Juan Pablo Gonzalez Gonzalez presented a summary of the system of internal control within the Council, including mechanisms for preventing malfeasance and corruption among the judges. As a result of the interesting and useful discussions agreements for further contacts and co-operation have been reached and specific areas for future cooperation were marked as follows:

    • Assistance by the General Judicial Council to the ongoing judicial reform in Bulgaria through: presenting the Spanish model of transition towards modern, independent, efficient and non-corrupt judicial system, providing opinions, assessments and recommendations by Spanish experts on the judicial reform in Bulgaria, participation at events and provision of publications, etc.

    • Provision of comments and recommendations by representatives of the General Judicial Council on the first draft of the Judicial Anti-Corruption Program (by the end of June). The Judicial Anti-Corruption Program (JACP) is now in process of development under the coordination of CSD and will represent a background consensus document, focused on the role of the judiciary for preventing and combating corruption, and identifying the most important reform areas as well as formulating a set of recommendations and mechanisms for achieving legal stability and confidence in the judiciary.

    • Invitation of representatives of the General Judicial Council and Spanish experts to participate at the Policy Forum for endorsing the JACP.

    • Working meeting between members of the General Judicial Council and members of a Bulgarian delegation visiting Madrid on June 26-27 as a part of a study visit for examining the Spanish experience with the establishment of the ombudsman institution.

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