The Program for the Development of the Judicial System is a not-for-profit association performing activities in public benefit. The goals of the Association, pursuant to its Articles of Association, are: to support the development of the judicial system and the strengthening of Rule of Law through the encouragement of judicial reform, improvement of access to justice, increasing the support, trust and confidence of the civil society in the work of the judicial system, popularizing national and international standards and acts in the field of development of the judicial system and protection of human rights.
The Association has been registered with the Sofia City Court by virtue of Decision No. 1 of 13 July 2007 under company case No. 11085/2007. The Association has been entered into the Central Register of Not-for-Profit Legal Entities in Public Benefit; the certificate issued by the Ministry of Justice is dated 15 September 2007.
In the first months of its existence, the Association focused its attention to the adoption of decisions and internal rules which would ensure its adequate functioning. For example, Unified Rules for Control and Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism have been approved. They were adopted by a decision of the Management Board of 6 November 2007 and approved by Order No. РД – 20 – 398 / 6 December 2007 of the Director of the Financial Intelligence Agency.
The Association has been set up by a part of the team of the Judicial Strengthening Initiative (JSI) of the United States Agency for International Development. The founding members of the Association are: Velislava Delcheva, Galina Kirova, Denitsa Todorova (Yankova), Eliana Angelova, Iva Vatova – Ivanova, Presiana Manolova, Ralitsa Velichkova.
The activity of the Association is also supported by other former members of the JSI team who are not official members of the Association and other people working towards the strengthening of the judiciary in Bulgaria.
The management bodies of the Association are its General Meeting and Management Board. The Management Board consists of three members – Presiana Manolova (Chairperson), Velislava Delcheva, Denitsa Yankova. The term of office of the first Management Board expires in July 2008 and every other Management Board will have a term of office of 3 years.
In the course of the first several months of the existence of the Association, several meetings of the Management Board were held to discuss issues concerning the project activities. The members of the Management Board were the main contact people for meetings with representatives of different institutions and non-governmental organizations. Meetings were held with the Minister of Justice, Chairperson of the Supreme Administrative Court, Supreme Judicial Council, chairpersons of courts in the country, representatives of the United States Agency for International Development, US Embassy, Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives, Bulgarian Center for Development and Training and others. The purposes of the meetings were related mainly to future cooperation and planning for specific activities.
The members of the Management Board took part in public fora organized by the Open Society Institute and Ministry of Justice dedicated to the implementation of the Ministry of Justice Action Plan.
There are two main projects on which the Association worked in the last year – Strengthening the Capacity of the Supreme Judicial Council for Working with the Courts in Bulgaria and Provision of information to the public, potential beneficiaries and beneficiaries in relation to Operational Programme Administrative Capacity.
The project targeted at the SJC is funded by the United States Agency for International Development and implemented with the technical support of the Bulgarian Center for Development and Training. The project aims to improve the capacity of the Supreme Judicial Council to work with the courts in Bulgaria.
The first project meeting was held on 11 December 2007 – a meeting with SJC members to present the activities of the Judicial Strengthening Initiative and discuss the possible cooperation between the SJC and the Association. The SJC members were familiarized with the activity under the Model Courts and Courts in Partnership Program, Court Improvement Plan, Concept Paper on Information Centers in the Courts, implementation of information technologies in the judiciary, work with the National Institute of Justice, professional organizations of the judges and court clerks, media, and civil society structures. The project was also the topic of the first meeting of the Association with media representatives and the purpose was to provide information about the current and upcoming activities to the public through the media (see Section VII).
The other activities under the project aimed at increasing the capacity of the SJC Administration for working with the courts in the country will be implemented in 2008. Trainings, working meetings and visits to courts included in the Model Courts and Courts in Partnership Program of the United States Agency for International Development will be held.
The project Provision of information to the public, potential beneficiaries and beneficiaries in relation to Operational Programme Administrative Capacity started with the signing of an agreement between the Ministry of State Administration and Administrative Reform and the consortium in which the Association participates. The consortium which won a public procurement tender for the project includes PR and Media, Alpha Research, Economy Agency and Euro Projects Point.
The Program for the Development of the Judicial System will cover the part of the communication campaign which is targeted directly at the representatives of the judiciary, i.e. courts, prosecution and investigation. The PDJS will organize a national conference in Sofia and information days by regions – Veliko Tarnovo, Plovdiv, Burgas and Varna, to reach the representatives of the judiciary and inform them about the possibilities OPAC offers for the improvement of their qualification and capacity and for the improvement of their effective relations with the public.
The activities implemented by the Association will take place in the period March – May 2008.
Two other projects are under preparation – with the prosecution and the administrative courts in Bulgaria. Applications for them and possible implementation will take place in 2008.
The Association has a website – www.prss-bg.org
It provides information about the organization, its goals, team and projects. The Articles of Association have been posted as well notices concerning the activities of the Program. The website is maintained in two languages – Bulgarian and English. The Association believes that it is a good way to provide information about its activities to partners, members, etc.
The Program for the Development of the Judicial System is developing a close cooperation in its media relations. This manner of work continues that of the Judicial Strengthening Initiative.
Reporters are periodically informed about the activities implemented by the Association.
On 11 December 2007, a meeting was held with representatives of different electronic and print media – Bulgarian Telegraph Agency, Bulgarian National Radio, Darik Radio and others at which the Program presented its activities until that time and its plans for the new year.
The active cooperation with the media will continue in the next year.
The activities of Association started as a result of the donations made by Kenneth Stuart (Director of the Judicial Strengthening Initiative) and East West Management Institute. They helped us rent an office located at 54 Tsar Boris III Str. in Sofia.
All the equipment and furniture have been donated by the Judicial Strengthening Initiative.