Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria, Non profit organisation
Postal address: 5 Alexander Zhendov str.
1113 Sofia, Bulgaria
The SELDI Secretariat, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) is the premier Bulgarian anti-corruption and good governance think tank. It has more than 15 years of track record in the field of anti-corruption, including more than 50 bilingual publications (including 9 national and one regional corruption assessment reports). CSD has set up and managed the Bulgarian anti-corruption initiative Coalition 2000, which the current project aims to scale up in the region. The initiative has been singled out as a national best practice by the World Bank in its Anti-Corruption in Transition series. CSD has designed a state of the art Corruption Monitoring System (CMS), included in the UN Anti-Corruption Toolkit. It has also piloted the CMS regionally through Southeast Europe Legal Development Initiative (SELDI), which provided unique insights into what works and what not in the region in terms of CSO collaboration and advocacy capacity. Coalition 2000 was a 10-year public-private monitoring, analysis, advocacy and awareness effort, which helped reduce administrative corruption in Bulgaria by 50%. CSD is regularly consulted and quoted by the European Commission services as part of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism monitoring Bulgaria’s progress in the fight against corruption and organised crime. CSD experts are members of distinguished expert groups such as the EU Group of Experts on Corruption, the UNODC expert group on monitoring UN Convention against Corruption, etc. They are regular speakers at European Parliament hearings. CSD has asserted its leadership on good governance and anti-corruption also on EU level by recently completing two pilot studies - on the Links between Corruption and Organised Crime in EU-27 and on anti-corruption measures in EU border control. It is also a member of the biggest ever EU funded social sciences and humanities project on anti-corruption: ANTICORRP: Anti-Corruption Policies Revisited: Global Trends and European Responses to the Challenge of Corruption. This combination of practical implementation and frontier research knowledge makes CSD a natural regional CSO hub for good governance and anti-corruption.
The Challenge of Corruption
The persistent challenge of corruption continues to be a defining factor in Bulgaria. This has been reaffirmed by the EU Progress Reports under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). Independence, accountability and integrity of the judiciary, including ensuring a more efficient, consistent and transparent judicial process are at the heart of the fight against corruption. Such framework however requires significant commitment. Bulgaria has achieved results in implementing this new legal and institutional framework. Independent controls of courts and prosecutors offices have been carried out, recommendations regarding court management and judicial practice have been issued and a more robust approach has been taken to disciplinary activity. In addition, the country has improved procedural codes in all three branches of law and started to improve judicial practice.
However, these efforts have not yet led to significant improvements in judicial accountability and efficiency. Legal proceedings are often of an excessive duration. Disciplinary practice shows inconsistencies, and in many important cases has either not been able to conclude, or has not reached dissuasive results. Questions remain about judicial independence.
Activity against organised crime intensified during the last several years and the police took a more active role, and a number of long-overdue procedural and institutional reforms were carried out. These efforts have led to a more solid institutional set-up and better procedures. However, convincing results are still missing at both the pre-trial and trial phases to tackle effectively this form of criminality. There are still many unsolved and delayed cases in this area. Organised crime is still described by independent observers as a fundamental challenge for the state and the society. With very few exceptions, the specialised court has decided so far only minor cases as the underlying legislation does not allow the court to prioritise on the most important cases.