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Prosecutorial Assessment Leads to Policy Action in Bulgaria

April 2008

A year and a half after the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) published its Prosecutorial Reform Index (PRI) in Bulgaria, Prosecutor Margarita Popova, Chair of the PRI Implementation Committee, declared that the government has made definite progress toward improving the accountability and administration of the prosecutorial sector.

Popova’s remarks were testament to the success of ABA ROLI’s assessment tools, which have not only informed and guided reform efforts globally, but whose recommendations have actually been implemented as government policy in Bulgaria.

Less than one year before Bulgaria’s accession into the European Union, a new Prosecutor General, Boris Velchev, was appointed to a 7 year, non-renewable term. Several months later, due to this critical timing, the then Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative of the American Bar Association (ABA-CEELI) conducted its newly developed PRI in Bulgaria at the request of the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development and Training of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ-OPDAT) and funded by the   Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the Department of State.

The findings of the Assessment were released in November 2006, accompanied by remarks from Prosecutor General Velchev:  “Our American colleagues used a very analytical and thorough approach, and this report will give us the chance to find our weaknesses and strong points, and to look for the ways of overcoming these weaknesses.”

Immediately following the release of the report, Prosecutor Velchev created the Prosecutorial Reform Index Committee tasked with considering the recommendations of the PRI and soliciting feedback from prosecutors and other relevant actors in structuring a three-year strategy or “roadmap” of reform.

The Committee worked to develop an “Action Plan” for reform based on feedback received from prosecutors and other sources as to how to implement the findings of the PRI.  The Committee was also tasked with monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Action Plan.   To accomplish this, the Committee designated appellate and district prosecutors directed to coordinate the implementation process and provide regular feedback and evaluative data.

Margarita Popova, who reports directly to Prosecutor Velchev regarding the implementation of the PRI as Chair of the implementation committee, said that despite challenges, the recommendations of the report were instructive and continue to serve as relevant guides to action.. OPDAT has requested that the ABA Rule of Law Initiative implement the PRI in the fall of 2008, using the 2006 assessment findings as a baseline, to formally gauge the reform progress and provide further feedback to Prosecutor General