To the Members of the Judicial College of the Supreme Judicial Council

Text translated from Bulgarian to English, published by the Union of Judges in Bulgaria, original can be found here:

The Bulgarian Judges Association
Member of the International Association of Judges (IAJ)
Member of the European Association of Judges (EAJ)
Member of Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés (MEDEL)
Sofia 1000, 7, Pirotska street, 5th floor, phone: 0879686841

To the Members of the Judicial College of the Supreme Judicial Council

Ladies and gentlemen,

We hereby inform you that according to Art. 16, para. 1 of the Judiciary System Act (the full text of the act can be found on the webpage of the Supreme Judicial Council), the Supreme Judicial Council represents the judiciary, guarantees and maintains its independence, assigns the panel of judges and defines the work organization of the courts, the prosecutors’ offices and the investigative bodies as well as financially and technically secures their activity without interfering with its implementation.

By publishing the “SJC Judicial College Position” on 24.09.2019 regarding the “signal” received from one political party and regarding speeches by representatives of other political parties, the academic community, citizens and media, not only do you not fulfil your basic obligations, but you also join an unprecedented political and public pressure on a particular Trial Chamber and on the judiciary as a whole. This pressure unceremoniously takes advantage of the tragedy of a Bulgarian family for various reasons and purposes.

By doing so, you are destroying the fundamental foundations of the country – the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. We remind you that each case is decided according to the law and the evidence which is gathered in the process.

In this connection and in view of the provision of the JSA stated above, it is unacceptable that the members of the Supreme Judicial Council “share a feeling that the balance between law and justice has been disturbed”, as expressed by citizens, groups of citizens or political parties regarding a particular judicial act. The procedure for appealing and revoking judicial acts is precisely and strictly stated in the law. Discussion and justified criticism of judicial acts are not only acceptable but also desirable in a democratic society.

On the other hand, personal attacks and threats, including appeals towards physical violence, against the judge or the Trial Chamber issuing the specific judicial act, are absolutely unacceptable. It is in such cases that the judge should receive unprecedented and firm support by the Supreme Judicial Council, since this is the only way to establish the rule of law and the independence of the court.

In this sense and context, you have also adopted the Standards for the Independence of the Judiciary (resolution of the Judicial College of SJC in protocol No. 31 of 23.10.2018). Instead, the Bulgarian judge receives from you a clear and unequivocal sign that if they do not make their decisions in accordance to the public opinion and the desires of political parties and their particular leaders, the judge will be harassed, abused, physically persecuted and mistreated, and the only response of the Judicial College of the SJC will be to assist in the disciplinary proceedings.

Your actions as described above are in conflict with all globally accepted basic principles of a democratic country with an established rule of law and separation of powers, while at the same time those actions represent also a crude failure to perform your professional duties. We deem that if performing those professional duties is beyond your capabilities, the provision of art. 27, para 1 of JSA in connection to art. 130, para 8, item 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria gives you the opportunity to step down with dignity.

For the Board of Directors of the Bulgarian Judges Association:

Judge Krasimir Mazgalov
Judge Emil Dechev
Judge Yordan Damaskinov
Judge Daniela Mavrodieva
Judge Veronika Bozova
Judge Petko Petkov