Programme agreement signed for the Justice programme in Bulgaria

The programme agreement for Bulgaria - Justice was signed on 23 May 2018.

BG Justice programme signed

Key information about the programme

The programme is operated by: Ministry of Justice

Why is the programme needed?

The programme contributes to strengthened rule of law across the justice institutions in Bulgaria in line with the principles of efficiency of justice and the rule of law. It aims at ensuring synergies between the actors in the different stages of the judicial procedure: respect for the rights of the accused during the pre-trial detention, the rights of the crime victims during criminal proceedings, as well as improving conditions in prisons and actions aimed at lowering reoffending.

Reports of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment indicate that the conditions in prisons in Bulgaria need to be improved. Over the past three years Bulgaria has undertaken reforms of the penitentiary system. However, more needs to be done to improve the living conditions in Bulgarian prisons and to contribute to a more effective rehabilitation of inmates.

What will the programme achieve and who are the beneficiaries?

The programme focuses on two programme areas (Correctional Services and Pre-trial Detention (PA 19), and Effectiveness and Efficiency of the Judicial System, Strengthening Rule of Law (PA21)). Under PA 19, target groups include prison inmates, among which vulnerable groups in prison such as women, juvenile offenders, s prisoners with special needs, minorities including Roma. In addition, medical staff in prisons, offenders on probation, children and families of those imprisoned will benefit directly from the programme. It is expected that the programme will contribute to reduced re-offending rates which is beneficial for society in general. The programme aims to increase the number of accommodations in prisons that meet European prison standards. It also aims to help former prisoners to find employment when they leave prison by establishing several rehabilitation and reintegration measures for former inmates. One of the main components of the programme is the creation of a pilot prison facility in line with European standards with a capacity of up to 400 people and a training centre with a capacity of up to 100 trainees.

Under PA 21, the target group includes vulnerable people including children and Roma, victims and perpetrators of domestic and gender-based violence, imprisoned individuals, juveniles, the judiciary and public administration, law students and the public at large benefiting from an improved justice system. The programme contributes to improved efficiency of the justice chain, and enhanced cooperation and networking between justice institutions, prosecution and correctional services. The programme also contributes to setting up a new training centre for legal professionals. Some key goals of the programme include training 270 legal professionals in European legal concepts, and renovating over 50 facilities for police protection of children crime victims in line with European standards.

How will the programme strengthen bilateral relations?

The Justice programme in Bulgaria contributes to strengthening bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Norway. At project level the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the Directorate of Norwegian Correctional Service will support projects exchanging best practices, job shadowing visits by prison governors, study visits to Norway and Bulgaria, and exchange of staff between Norwegian and Bulgarian institutions. The programme will also facilitate participation in conferences, seminars, workshops, and high-level meetings in the area of the judiciary and correctional services. The collaboration is expected to contribute to mutually beneficial knowledge sharing and activities, and long-lasting cooperation between involved partners.

Availability of funding through open calls

The funding in this programme will be made available through the following open calls:

  • Call 1 Improved capacity of Bulgarian Authorities in the area of child friendly justice – First quarter 2020
  • Call 2 – Improved capacity of Bulgarian authorities in the area of domestic and genderbased violence – First quarter 2020

Download the full programme agreement for more detailed information about the programme.

More information can also be found on the website of the Norway Grants in Bulgaria and the website of The Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the Directorate of Norwegian Correctional Service.