Bulgaria – new law restriction for judges and their organisations?

Gepubliceerd op: 26 juli 2017 in: Activiteiten, Algemeen, Bulgarije | Comments Off on Bulgaria – new law restriction for judges and their organisations?

On July 4 2017 five Members of the Parliament (three of them from the ruling party, including the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of Legal Affairs) filed a legislative draft for amendments of the Judiciary System Act. This draft prescribes a.o.:

  • an obligation for each judge and prosecutor to declare before the Supreme Judicial Council whether he or she is a member of a magistrates’ organisation;
  • an obligation for professional organisations of judges and prosecutors to finance their activities exclusively from their members’ contribution fees or from donations made by their own members;
  • a prohibition for judges and prosecutors to receive any fees for participation as lecturers or experts if the activities are financed by “a foreign country or person”.

According to the explanatory notes, the aim of the restrictions and prohibitions is to preclude “foreign influences” and dependencies in the judiciary.

These amendments evoked strong protests, saying that these amendments will hinder the free association of magistrates in professional organisations and will threaten the functioning of these organisations. For more details, see:

In reaction to the protests, the Prime Minister announced that the Members of Parliament from his party will propose that financing from the European Union will be allowed to magistrates organizations.

The amendments will be subjected to further debate and “second reading” in Parliament, which – as it appears under (inter)national pressure – will now be scheduled after (instead of before) the summer recess.

Judges for Judges will follow the developments and keep you informed.

Disciplinary proceedings against Bulgarian judge Miroslava Todorova: implications for judicial independence

Gepubliceerd op: 24 juli 2017 in: Activiteiten, Algemeen, Bulgarije, CIJL_ICJ | Comments Off on Disciplinary proceedings against Bulgarian judge Miroslava Todorova: implications for judicial independence

In a report published today, Judges for Judges and the ICJ analyze disciplinary proceedings against Bulgarian Judge Miroslava Todorova in relation to international standards on judicial independence and accountability.

On 12 July 2012, the Supreme Judicial Council of Bulgaria dismissed Judge Miroslava Todorova, at that time a judge of the Sofia City Court and Chairperson of the Bulgarian Judges Association, on the grounds that she was responsible for delays in a number of cases. Subsequently, Judges for Judges and the ICJ followed the disciplinary proceedings against Todorova and sent trial observers to Sofia on two occasions, in May 2013 and November 2014.

In their findings, the ICJ and Judges for Judges do not address whether, and if so which, disciplinary sanctions may have been appropriate in this case. They note, however, that the disciplinary proceedings concerned delays, constituting judicial misconduct, in a context where according to many internal and external observers the workload between the courts is divided unevenly and may be very high for some.

The two organizations also note that, as the second three-judge panel pointed out, the overall organization of the workflow was never properly considered in considering and reaching a determination in the disciplinary case. With the quashing of the second three-judge panel’s decision, likewise other relevant circumstances were not taken into account. Furthermore, the report finds, disciplinary practice in Bulgaria is deficient in respect of its lack of predictability and consistency, and doubts expressed by many observers as to the independence of the Judicial Service Council muddy the waters further. The 2013 amendments to the legal framework only partially served to remedy the disciplinary practice’s deficiencies. In particular, a full right of defence that includes the opportunity for the defendant to address all arguments and evidence remained wanting at the time of the Todorova proceedings.

In the report, the ICJ and Judges for Judges also note the animosity towards Todorova from certain quarters in the Executive and SJC for her activities as the chair of the BJA in defence of judicial independence. Under the circumstances, there is an appearance that the disciplinary proceedings against Todorova were instituted and pursued selectively, and the system of the disciplinary proceedings in Bulgaria does not provide sufficient safeguards to dispel this appearance.
The disciplinary proceedings against Todorova demonstrate why it is crucial that accountability mechanisms be independent not only in theory but in practice, and for such mechanisms to be in some way themselves publicly accountable.

Bulgaria-The case of Todorova-Publications-Reports-Trial observation reports (full report, in PDF).

For additional background, see:

ICJ Practitioners Guide no 13, Judicial Accountability (2016, in PDF)

and more generally:

ICJ Practitioners Guide No 1, International Principles on the Independence and Accountability of Judges, Lawyers and Prosecutors (2007, in PDF)

Platform for an Independent Judiciary in Turkey: “Independence of the judiciary is abolished.”

Gepubliceerd op: 19 juli 2017 in: Activiteiten, Algemeen, Turkije | Comments Off on Platform for an Independent Judiciary in Turkey: “Independence of the judiciary is abolished.”



The assessment of the status of the justice system in Turkey clearly proves that the independence of the judiciary is abolished. The Platform for an Independent Judiciary in Turkey refers to its previous declarations and to the attached summary on the developments and their results. It is urgent to return to the rule of law and to bring back to the Turkish people the fundamental rights of which they had been deprived.

The Platform urges

I.) the Turkish authorities
• to end the pressure which is directly exercised on Turkish judges and prosecutors, who are in charge of the procedures subsequent to the terrible attempt of the coup d´etat, and indirectly by influencing the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors;
• to reestablish the procedural rules, which are necessary to guarantee a fair procedure;
• to make the observation of the court hearings by international observers possible;
• to guarantee that the European Prison Rules (CM Rec(2006)2) are obeyed in all detention centres and to hold accountable those who have violated them;
• release the unduly detained judges and prosecutors and to return the unduly seized assets of these persons;
• to annul the dissolution of the only independent judges association: YARSAV;

II.) the Council of Europe and the European Union
• to convince the Turkish authorities to fulfill the above mentioned requirements, which are based on common European values;
• to carefully follow the developments regarding the Turkish justice system;
• to establish mechanism and support initiatives which make international trial-observation missions possible.

Edith Zeller m.p.
President of the Association of European Administrative Judges (AEAJ)

José Igreja Matos m.p.
President of the European Association of Judges (EAJ)

Tamara Trotman m.p.
President of Judges for Judges

Gualtiero Michelini m.p.
President of Magistrats Européens pour la Democratie et les Libertés (MEDEL)

Chair Judges for Judges interviewed for Bulgarian newspaper

Gepubliceerd op: 15 maart 2017 in: Activiteiten, Bulgarije | Comments Off on Chair Judges for Judges interviewed for Bulgarian newspaper

Interview CapitalDuring the last weekend of November 2016 the Bulgarian Judges Association organised a conference within the framework of the Project ‘Creating a favourable environment for an independent judiciary in Bulgaria’.

Our chair was invited as a guest speaker and was interviewed afterwards by journalist Mirela Veselinova of the newspaper Capital.

This interview was published on the website of Capital (click here) and on the Legalworld website (click here).

The final conference will be held on March 17th 2017 in Sofia.

Problems in Bulgaria are not dissimilar to those in Swaziland

Tamara Trotman is a judge at the Appellate Court of The Hague in the Netherlands and Chair of the Dutch-based foundation Judges for Judges.
At the end of November, Tamara Trotman visited Bulgaria as a guest speaker at a conference organised by the Bulgarian Judges Association within the framework of the Project ‘Creating a favourable environment for an independent judiciary in Bulgaria’, implemented in co-operation with the Dutch Association for the Judiciary (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Rechtspraak, NvvR). In her presentation, dedicated to judicial solidarity, Justice Trotman spoke about several cases of pressure being put on judges in different countries in Europe which have come to the attention of the foundation Judges for Judges.

Read more: click here to read the full interview and click here to read the additional text (both in English, translation: Boryana DESHEVA).

Hoorzitting IACHR inzake executie-traject in de zaak López Lone y otros vs. Honduras

Gepubliceerd op: 10 februari 2017 in: Algemeen, Honduras | Comments Off on Hoorzitting IACHR inzake executie-traject in de zaak López Lone y otros vs. Honduras

Rechters_HondurasVandaag, op 10 februari 2017 vindt een besloten hoorzitting plaats bij het Inter-American Court of Human Rights inzake de naleving door Honduras van de belangrijke uitspraak López Lone y otros vs. Honduras uit oktober 2015 met betrekking tot een groepje ontslagen Hondurese rechters (zie http://www.corteidh.or.cr/index.php/audiencias-privadas).

De vertaalpoule van Rechters voor Rechters heeft een Engelse vertaling gemaakt van de officiële Spaanse samenvatting.

Rechters voor Rechters volgt deze zaak al sinds jaren. 1000px-Flag_of_Honduras_svgDe ontslagen rechters willen graag weer in hun functie worden hersteld, maar Honduras stelt zich op het standpunt dat dit niet mogelijk is nu er inmiddels andere gekwalificeerde rechters op hun posities zijn benoemd. De ontslagen rechters weigeren op hun beurt de financiële vergoeding, zodat er een patstelling is ontstaan.

Deze uitkomst van deze zaak in het executie-traject is niet alleen van belang voor de onafhankelijkheid van de rechterlijke macht in Honduras maar voor de hele regio.

Statement on the arrest and detention of lawyers and judges in the Cameroon

Gepubliceerd op: 8 februari 2017 in: Algemeen, Kameroen | Comments Off on Statement on the arrest and detention of lawyers and judges in the Cameroon

Click here to read the statement from the Vlag_KameroenCommonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA), Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) and Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA).


Word actief!

Gepubliceerd op: 22 december 2016 in: Activiteiten, Algemeen | Comments Off on Word actief!

Rechters voor Rechters zoekt nieuwe mensen om een aantal landenteams te versterken en om vertaalwerk te verrichten. Word nu actief!

Inmiddels is het aantal landen waar RR zich mee bezig houdt flink uitgebreid. Dit betekent een groei aan activiteiten voor de stichting. Om zich actief te kunnen blijven inzetten voor de rechters-in-problemen in de verschillende landen heeft RR meer menskracht nodig.

RR zoekt op dit moment specifiek naar:

  • iemand die het (met name virtuele) secretariaat kan komen versterken;
  • mensen die zich willen bezighouden met de situatie van de rechterlijke macht in Polen;
  • mensen die het (zo mogelijk ook juridisch) Arabisch machtig zijn;
  • mensen die het (zo mogelijk ook juridisch) Turks machtig zijn;
  • mensen die het (zo mogelijk ook juridisch) Georgisch machtig zijn;
  • zij zullen met name worden gevraagd om artikelen op internet/tweets te scannen op interessante informatie voor onze Stichting en deze zo nodig te vertalen. Ook mensen die (slechts) incidenteel vertaalwerk willen verrichten worden van harte uitgenodigd om zich aan te melden. U hoeft geen officiële opleiding te hebben genoten.

Als hier iets bij zit dat u aanspreekt of als u zich anderszins actief zou willen inzetten voor RR, dan kunt u ons een berichtje sturen via het emailadres [info@rechtersvoorrechters.nl], zo mogelijk onder vermelding van kennis over, ervaring met of interesse in een land of regio waaraan u aandacht zou willen besteden.
Indien u rechters en/of raadsheren kent die geïnteresseerd (zouden kunnen) zijn in het werk van de Stichting, schroomt u dan ook niet om hen over ons werk in te lichten.

Polish Rule of Law is not lost yet !

Gepubliceerd op: 9 december 2016 in: Algemeen, Polen | Comments Off on Polish Rule of Law is not lost yet !

fullsizerenderBlog (English translation) by J.W. Fokkens, former Attorney General of Dutch Supreme Court & C.H.W.M. Sterk, member Dutch Council for the Judiciary.

Between 5th and 7th October last we visited Warsaw with a group of about fifteen people, as part of a program by the Dutch Academy for Public Administration (NSOB). During this visit we met with prof. Andrzej Rezplinski, president of the Constitutional Court, and seven other judges, among whom was also Darius Zawistowski, chairman of the Polish Council for the Judiciary.

The things our Polish colleagues told us troubled us to such a degree that we feel the need to openly express our concern and share it with the legal community.

The president of the Constitutional Court rose to address us. He spoke softly, clear and to the point, but also dazed, as if he could still not believe what he was about to say. Every time when, during this speech, he touched upon a violation of the constitution, he waved the small booklet he held in his hand: stressing again and again that he would remain loyal to the Constitution, because that is the anchor of any judge under the Rule of Law.

He started out his speech by pointing out that for the last year, Poland has been ruled by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, even though the latter is nominally only a member of the Polish Parliament. This means that the president, prime-minister and all the members of government abide by the commands and whims of this strongman. Every week, they come to his house to receive their instructions (violation of the Constitution). Kaczynski is a great admirer of the German legal philosopher Carl Schmitt, who is controversial for his initial support to the regime of Adolf Hitler. In Schmitt’s worldview, the Sovereign is central, he expresses the will of the nation, and therefore should –in short- have all the power in a State. Based on these ideas, Kaczynski operates without regard for the principles of the Rule of Law, the separation of powers or an independent judiciary (violation of the Constitution). Kaczynski uses all his power to wage war – a word prof. Rezplinski used repeatedly – against the independence of the judiciary (violation of the Constitution). His goal is to destroy that independence and reshape the judiciary into an instrument loyal to his nationalistic political agenda (violation of the Constitution).

Lees verder…;

Update on the disciplinary case of Maria Lourdes Afiuni

Gepubliceerd op: 28 november 2016 in: Algemeen, Venezuela | Comments Off on Update on the disciplinary case of Maria Lourdes Afiuni

Click here to read the update.

Vlag Venezuela





Interview met Tamara Trotman in Hofplein

Gepubliceerd op: 28 november 2016 in: Activiteiten, Algemeen | Comments Off on Interview met Tamara Trotman in Hofplein

Rechters zijn er voor iedereen. Daar weten we alles van… Maar zijn zij er ook voor rechters?

Een aantal bevlogen rechters is dat in elk geval wel. Zij zetten zich in voor collega’s in het buitenland, die in moeilijkheden zijn of dreigen te komen vanwege hun werk. Wij weten allemaal wat er in Turkije is gebeurd, waar na de mislukte coup in juli – onder meer – duizenden rechters zonder enige vorm van proces zijn ontslagen en vastgezet. Maar ook in Venezuela, in Oekraïne, in Servië, in Swaziland, in Suriname (om een helemaal niet uitputtende opsomming te geven) is het nog niet zo eenvoudig, ja zelfs gevaarlijk gebleken om het rechterlijk vak onafhankelijk en onpartijdig uit te oefenen…

Klik hier
om het hele interview in Hofplein (nieuwsbulletin van het Gerechtshof Den Haag) te lezen.