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Open statement of IPED, in relation to the proposed Bill for amendments in the Judicial System Act

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The IPED shares the concerns expressed by large number of Non-governmental organizations in Bulgaria, in connection with the Bill for amendments in the Judicial System Act, submitted by a group of MPs on July 4, 2017. The proposed amendments and the strong restrictive provisions of the Bill will forbid the support for professional organizations, scientific and academic activity of the Bulgarian magistrates, provided by international foundations and organisations, including the institutions of the EU, the Council of Europe and the United nations. All of these organizations (including the ones in which Bulgaria has voluntarily assumed membership) will fall under the scope of the term “foreign entity”.

We share the position that the amendments proposed in such way, will be inconsistent with the Bulgarian constitution and the guaranteed principles within it - such as the freedom of association. Thus, the professional community of the Bulgarian magistrates can be objectively weakened and their voices may be silenced.

The IPED firmly rejects the allegations that “access to foreign financing” implies dependence of the recipients and opens a channel for undue “influence on the judiciary”. Our organization supports the appeal of the representatives from the civil society in Bulgaria to the members of the National Assembly, to withdraw or reject the proposed amendments to the Judicial System Act, which would restrict the support for the professional association of the Bulgarian magistrates.