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Learning more about quasi-judicial functions of equality bodies

June 7th 2017

Commission for the Protection from Discrimination, Bulgaria in Focus

Members of the Equinet secretariat and seven members of the Equinet cluster on Quasi-Judicial Functions were hosted by the Bulgarian Commission for the Protection from Discrimination in Sofia on 31 May 2017. The purpose of the visit was to observe the procedures of the Bulgarian Commission, which has one of the most formal quasi-judicial procedures within Equinet’s membership.

Chairwoman Dzhumalieva introduced the Bulgarian Commission to the guests, highlighting the role of the Commission as an expert institution on discrimination, which receives complaints directly from the public, but is also referred cases from the courts and public prosecutors offices.

Panel of Commissioners at hearings
Panel of Commissioners at hearings

The cluster members attended three hearings organized by the Bulgarian Commission, where they had the opportunity to follow the procedures first hand and ask the Bulgarian Commissioners questions in the breaks. Discussions ranged from how the Bulgarian Commission supports its users, cooperation with NGOs, sanctioning powers, the backgrounds and employment status of the Commissioners, and the Commission’s ability to rule on potentially discriminatory elements enshrined in law.

In the afternoon, cluster members had the opportunity to ask further questions from the Chairwoman and other members of the Bulgarian Commission. The details of the Bulgarian Commission’s procedures were discussed, including the length of the procedure, how they handle the case load, how settlement between the parties is arranged, in what capacity the Bulgarian Commission appears before the courts, and the Bulgarian Commission’s experience with referring a case to the European Court of Justice (i.e. the Belov case).

Cluster members expressed appreciation for the possibility to see the Bulgarian Commission’s procedures first hand in the interactive form of a study visit, and made plans to continue this practice in the next cluster meeting.

Discussions amongst participants
Discussions amongst participants