Activity 7 – Information and publicity

This activity envisions a package of measures aimed at carrying out an active information and policy both for the project target groups and for the general public on the Norwegian Finance Mechanism 2014-2021, the implementation, impact and results of the support from the financial mechanism for the project, as well as on the cooperation with the institutions in Norway.

The planned measures to disseminate information about the project via the Internet include the organization of information venues – press conferences, the elaboration of promotional information materials, as well as the development of a dedicated project website in Bulgarian and English languages, highlighting the assistance of the Norwegian Finance

Press Conference on the project „Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals“

On 14.03.2023  at 11:00 in hall 201 of the National Institute of Justice will be held an Interim Press Conference under the project Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals“.

·         10:30 – 11:00 : Registration;

·         Opening remarks: MIGLENA TACHEVA, Director of the National Institute of Justice;

·         Welcome address: KRUM ZARKOV, Minister of Justice and  keeper of the state seal. Governor of the Programme Operator;

·  Successful partnership: IWAR ARNSTAD, Head of the International Secretariat at the Norwegian Courts Administration and institutional partner of the project „Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals”;

·         Progress achieved: SILVIYA DIMITROVA, Project Leader of „Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals“;

·         Discussion.

The NIJ presented a new modern website and 13 training spaces in the judiciary, built up and equipped with the financial assistance of the NFM

“Over the past 2-years, together, we have overcome many challenges that we faced for the first time; we had to be bold and innovate in project implementation – in a short timeframe, without prior clarity on the immediate impact, but with faith in the ultimate success.”

With these words, the NIJ Director Ms. Miglena Tacheva opened the press conference dedicated to the results achieved under the project “Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistratres and other legal professionals”, implemented with the support of the Justice Programme of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021. The event took place on 14 March 2023 in Hall 201 of the National Institute of Justice.

Ms. Tacheva emphasized on the cooperation with the Ministry of Justice as Programme Operator of the Justice Programme of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism and highlighted the commitment and the support of the Minister of Justice, Mr. Krum Zarkov, for the realization of the ambitious goals of the project.

Mr. Krum Zarkov, Minister of Justice and keeper of the state seal who is also Governor of the Programme Operator of the Justice Programme, made opening remarks at the conference. 45 representatives of the professional community – judges, prosecutors, court officials and experts took part in the public event.

The institutional partner of the project, the Norwegian Courts Administration, was represented by the Head of the Secretariat, Ivar Arnstad, who stated that “we all have something to learn from each other” and noted the high level of professionalism in the implementation of the project as a key factor in achieving the objectives of the Justice Programme of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism. 

The Chairperson of the Plovdiv Court of Appeal, Ms. Magdalina Ivanova and the prosecutors Nina Velichkova and Radoslav Lazarov from the Varna District Prosecutor’s Office joined the press conference online, directly from the respective shared training spaces, equipped under the project.  “Since the beginning this year, we have been actively using the equipped court room # 215 to organize experience-sharing activities and professional discussions” said Judge Ivanova.

The projects launched by the Institute in 2020 are worth a total of BGN 3 324 911 and are aimed at creating a modern learning environment in which the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights can be applied – through training, provision of learning resources and integration of best practices. As part of its efforts to modernize the learning environment for the Bulgarian judiciary, the NIJ reported the completion of the 13 shared training spaces built and equipped across the country and the training activities planned in them; the effectively functioning Forum on Human Rights as a full-fledged tool for planning the Institute’s overall training activity; the maintenance and upgrading of the online platform “Judicial Ethics”; the development of training resources for the different levels of the judiciary, in line with the judicial training standards adopted by the NIJ Management Board in 2022.

One of the achievements under the project, a new modern and interactive NIJ website, was officially launched on the day of the press conference.

NIJ Forum on Human Rights

The NIJ project “Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals”, funded under the Justice Programme of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism (NFM) 2014-2021, envisages strengthening and upgrading the Human Rights Forum, established by the Supreme Judicial Council during the previous NFM programming period, as a sustainable platform for information exchange and expert support in the field of fundamental rights protection.

The Human Rights Forum is an effective and sustainable tool for planning the overall training activities of the Institute in line with the fundamental rights. The NIJ Forum functions through established communities that are assigned specific tasks in the field of the rule of law, ethics and professional conduct, justice for children, protection of fundamental rights and various aspects of law enforcement.

The following professional communities have been established within the Forum on Human Rights:

– Judicial ethics and professional conduct;

– Justice for children;

– Protection of human rights in civil, criminal and administrative law context.

 The Human Rights Forum also hosts a group for the development of structured training content of self-learning resources (manuals, guides and handbooks) to support the planning and implementation of the NIJ training activities.

The Forum communities are built on a multi-professional basis and include magistrates, employees from institutions with relevant competences, NGO representatives and other professionals with in-depth knowledge and experience.

The main function of the human rights protection communities is related to planning the NIJ training activities in accordance with the fundamental standards for human rights protection and information exchange.

As of 10.03.2023, the Forum members amounted to 126.

Study visit to the European Court of Human Rights

Under the NIJ project “Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals”, funded under the Justice Programme of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism2014-2021, a visit to the European Court of Human Rights was organised for 10 representatives of the Human Rights Forum, established under Activity 4 of the project, in the period 10-13 April 2023. The programme of the study visit is developed with the assistance and support of Judge Yonko Grozev from the European Court of Human Rights.

Trainings with international expertsfor the enhancement of the skills and competences in implementing fundamental rights

Under the NIJ project “Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals”, funded under the Justice Programme of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism2014-2021, a series of trainings with international experts will be organized in June 2023, to enhance the skills and competences of the professional community in the implementation of fundamental rights:

With the assistance of the Norwegian Courts Administration, judge Torolv Groseth will conduct a practical workshop for Bulgarian magistrates on the reasoning on judicial acts, in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights in the context of Article 10 of the ECHR (freedom of expression).

The Bulgarian Judge at the European Court of Human Rights, Yonko Grozev, together with two other judges from the ECtHR, will provide training on the application of the European Convention on Human Rights. Bulgarian magistrates, members of the Human Rights Forum, will also take part in the training programme.

The international expert on judicial ethics and author of the manual for judicial trainers, “Judicial Conduct and Ethics”, Jeremy Cooper will conduct a practical training on the manual, which is due to be translated into Bulgarian under the project “Modern learning environment for judges, procsecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals”.

Shared learning spaces for the judiciary

In 2022, 13 shared learning spaces were established and equipped for the judiciary, under the NIJ project “Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals“, funded under the Justice Programme of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021.

The shared learning spaces are an innovative tool for delivering learning in working environment that contributes to the development of professional skills and competences in the judiciary.

In 2023, we plan to organize training sessions in the shared spaces that will be fully funded from the budget of the project “Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals“.

The NIJ Justice for Children Community is developing a self-learning course on juvenile rights in the criminal justice process

In connection with the amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, promulgated in the State Gazette No. 48/02.06.2023, and the change in the regulation on criminal justice for minors introduced by them (in force from 01.09.2023). ), the Justice for Children Community of the National Institute of Justice is developing a self-learning course focused on the rights of minors involved in criminal proceedings, with the goal to meet the needs for specialized training in this field, of judges, prosecutors and investigators.

In addition to the self-learning resource, the National Institute of Justice is preparing a series of training activities to ensure the training of law enforcement bodies in the field of children’s rights, which will be conducted in the period October – December 2023.

The self-learning course will be available on the e-Learning Portal of the NIj from 1 September 2023, and upon successful completion the participants will receive an automatically generated certificate.

23 judges, prosecutors and investigating magistrates took part in the training for trainers on “Judicial Ethics and Integrity”

On 20 and 21 June 2023, the National Institute of Justice held a training for trainers on “Judicial Ethics and Integrity”, which was attended by 23 members of professional ethics commissions of the judiciary.

The teaching team included Mr. Jeremy Cooper, author of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Manual for Trainers on Judicial Conduct and Ethics, and Rositsa Toncheva, judge at the Varna Court of Appeal. In their presentations the trainers focused on the universal principles of judicial ethics, professional integrity, judicial case law in relation to the Code of Ethical Conduct for Bulgarian Magistrates.

The training was organized under the NIJ project “Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals”, implemented with the support of the Justice Programme of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021.

The in-depth approach to civil, criminal and administrative legal aspects of the application of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights has sparked the interest of the professional community in a training organized by the NIJ

On June 29, 2023 in Sofia, at the Grand Hotel Astoria, the National Institute of Justice held a face-to-face meeting of lecturers and participants, in the blended training on “Civil, Criminal and Administrative Aspects of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights”.

The topic was thoroughly and consistently discussed by the NIJ judicial trainers judge Iliana Papazova, Supreme Court of Cassation, judge Donka Chakurova, Supreme Administrative Court  and judge Lada Paunova, Supreme Court of Cassation. The aim of the training was to present the civil, criminal and administrative legal dimensions of Article 8 of the ECHR. The combination of electronic and face-to-face training format contributed to the full understanding of the wide-ranging right to respect for private and family life in the context of Bulgarian and European practices.

Opportunities for direct communication with the lecturers within the provided virtual classrooms and the in-person meeting supported the process of improving the participants’ knowledge and skills for analytical reading and confident jurisprudence in line with the European legal tradition. The training was organized under the NIJ project “Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals”, supported by the Justice Programme of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021.

49 Legal professionals took part in the Second Session of the NIJ Forum on Human Rights

“Integrity is the cornerstone of any ethical relationship. Judges, prosecutors and lawyers shall all possess unwavering integrity of professional conduct. And not only this. They must also be particularly careful in their private lives. Observance of the highest standards of professionalism and refraining from any action that might compromise their integrity or cast doubt on their impartiality is key to the public interest.”

With these words, the NIJ Director Miglena Tacheva opened the Second session of the Human Rights Forum, dedicated to professional ethics and ethical challenges, which brought together 49 judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and representatives of the Bar Association.

The discussions among the participants focused on the principles of judicial ethics, collegiality and communication, international standards of professional conduct and integrity, as well as trust between representatives of the judiciary and the Bar. Panelists in the different parts of the Forum were Judge Rieke Lassen from the Oslo District Court, members of the Judicial Ethics Community Judge Angelina Lazarova, Junior Judge Kalina Stancheva, Junior Judge Radoslav Angelov, Junior Prosecutor Georgi Kodjanikolov, Prosecutor Sava Petrov, attorney Eli Hristova, attorney Penka Hristova, while the moderator of the event was Judge Rositsa Toncheva.

The online platform „Judicial Ethics“  and the CEELI Institute’s Handbook on the Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of the Justice System, translated with the financial support of the Embassy of the United States of America, were presented during the event. The forum was held within the framework of the project “Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors and investigators and other members of the professional community”, funded by the Justice Programme of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021.

Training “Protection of the financial interests of the European Union. Criminal offences. Functions of OLAF. European Public Prosecutor’s Office”
organized by the National Institute of Justice

On 26 and 27 October 2023 in Sofia, the National Institute of Justice will hold a training on the subject: “Protection of the financial interests of the European Union. Criminal offences. Functions of OLAF. European Public Prosecutor’s Office”, addressed to an audience of judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, with the trainers: Plamen Datsov, judge at the Sofia Court of Appeal, and Bozhidar Dzhambazov, prosecutor at the Supreme Cassation Prosecutor’s Office. 

The training is entirely practically oriented, and the curriculum will focus on the criminal law framework for the protection of the financial interests of the European Union, the current case law, as well as the powers of the European and national authorities in terms of countering crimes related to EU funds.

The training is organized under the NIJ project “Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals”, implemented with the financial support of the Justice Programme of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021. Travel expenses (travel, per diem and hotel accommodation) are covered by the project.

Applications shall be submitted by 16 October 2023 via the ISUPO system, available at isupo.nij.bg.

Contact person. Dilyana Petrovska, senior expert, email: d.petrovska@nij.bg; phone: 02 9359 007.

Specialized training for judges, prosecutors and investigating magistrates
on current criminal justice issues for children

In connection with the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code, promulgated in the State Gazette No. 48/02.06.2023, effective from 01.09.2023, the National Institute of Justice developed a self-study course “Introduction to Justice for Children. Current criminal law aspects”, focusing on the rights of minors involved in criminal proceedings. The training was developed by experts from the Justice for Children community and aims at meeting the needs for specialized training of judges, prosecutors and investigators in this field.

The training is a certification course and is published on the Institute’s e-learning portal, under the section: “Self-Study” (https://e-learning.nij.bg/course/view.php?id=1303). Judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates, and other legal rofessionals who are interested in the materials can take part in the course by logging into their personal Portal account and selecting “Enroll Me” from here.

The training ends with a test, upon successful completion of which the participant obtains a certificate.

The course is developed under the project “Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals”, implemented with the financial support of the Justice Programme, Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021.

More information about the training can be found in the short introductory film or by contacting the contact person: Yanislava Andreeva, y.andreeva@nij.bg, phone. 02 9359 162

The National Institute of Justice organised a meeting-discussion on preliminary references under Article 267 TFEU

On October 3, 2023 at the Astoria Hotel, Sofia, was held a discussion on “Practical guidelines on preliminary reference under Article 267 TFEU, based on observations of Bulgarian cases heard in Luxembourg” . The event is part of a training, funded under the project “Modern learning environment for judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and other legal professionals”, implemented with the financial support of the Justice Programme, Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021 that will take place in the period 3-10.10.2023.

The participants discussed the nature of preliminary reference as a dialogue between judges, the topics and characteristics of Bulgarian preliminary references, the preliminary reference procedure, the types of preliminary reference, the consequences of preliminary reference and the responsibility of the national judge to ensure compliance with the principle of primacy of EU law.

The moderators were Judge Donka Chakurova from the Supreme Administrative Court and Ms Tsvetelina Georgieva from the Legal Service of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. The discussion was attended by 22 legal professionals, including judges from the regional, district, administrative courts and the Supreme Administrative Court.

This meeting was the initial part of topical training that will continue on the NIJ e-learning portal. It will focus on forum discussions of cases from different legal fields.

The Dutch documentary “The Voice of the Child” was presented to the community “Justice for Children”

On 12.12.2023, in Hall 201 of the National Institute of Justice, the Community “Justice for Children” held a meeting on the occasion of the project “The Voice of the Child”, implemented by the Training and Study Center for the Judiciary in the Netherlands, the Belgium Judicial Training Institute, the Italian School for the Judiciary and the Bulgarian National Institute of Justice. The project is funded under the European Commission’s Justice Programme for the period 2024-2026.

The film “The Voice of the Child”, which displays the real-time work of several Dutch judges dealing with cases affecting the rights of children in cases of parental conflict, was presented at the meeting. Besides the parents, it also features the children who have experienced their parents’ separation and the judges who, responsible and committed, seek solutions for the best interest of the child.

The film provoked a lively discussion on the skills and competencies that judges need to work with children. The film’s producer Pieter Fleury spoke about the film production challenges and the support of the Dutch judiciary in its realization. The participants discussed a vast range of possibilities for cooperation, in relation with the participation of Bulgarian judges in the production of a local film under the project.

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