EU victim support project: Opening conference in Sofia

Presentation of the project: Kremena Ehrmann, IRZ advisor for the cooperation with Bulgaria; Daniela Mascheva, Bulgarian public prosecutor's office; Cătălin Andrei Popescu, Romanian public prosecutor's office; Barbara Wüsten, Weißer Ring (left to right)Presentation of the project: Kremena Ehrmann, IRZ advisor for the cooperation with Bulgaria; Daniela Mascheva, Bulgarian public prosecutor's office; Cătălin Andrei Popescu, Romanian public prosecutor's office; Barbara Wüsten, Weißer Ring (left to right)

On 5 April 2016, the opening conference for the "Enhancing the efficiency of the public prosecutor's offices of Bulgaria and Romania in the field of dealing with victims of crime and promoting their cooperation with local and foreign victim support organisations" project was held at the Palace of Justice in Sofia. The IRZ is coordinating this project, which is co-financed by the EU and will run for two years. Its partners are the public prosecutor's offices for the Republics of Bulgaria and Romania and the "Weißer Ring" organisation.

The Bulgarian public prosecutor's office hosted the conference. Kremena Ehrmann, IRZ advisor for the cooperation with Bulgaria, opened the event with an extensive presentation of the project. As well as participants of the conference, representatives from the Germany embassy, Bulgarian victim support organisations and the press were also present.

Project leaders representing the partners introduced their organisations and explained their contributions towards its implementation. Victim support organisations in Bulgaria showed a great deal of interest and there were some lively discussions after the lectures.

One of the main objectives of the project is to raise awareness amongst public prosecutors and train them in how to deal with victims of crime in a respectful, non-discriminatory and professional way. In addition, guidelines for their daily work in this field are to be developed and better cooperation with victim support organisations will be established. Overall, it will be a matter of establishing networks and providing victims of crime and society in general with better information about rights and the help that is available.

To achieve this, a variety of activities will be required. Seminars will be held in Bulgaria and Romania to train 330 public prosecutors to deal with victims of crime in their everyday work.

Recommendations will be discussed and contacts established during workshops and round table discussions. Study trips are planned to allow the in-depth exchange of experiences. At the end of the project, information brochures on the rights of victims of crime and active victim support organisations will be produced and printed for Bulgaria and Romania.

A multidisciplinary approach is made possible thanks to the variety of professions held by the experts involved. As well as law professionals, mediators, police officers and psychologists are also involved in the project. Victim support organisations in Bulgaria will also support the work and take part in the planned activities.

The first seminars are scheduled for May and June. A closing conference, during which the results of the joint project will be presented, will take place in January 2018 in Bucharest.

Course in Democracy and Law in Razgrad, Bulgaria

  • Vice-President Popova opening the course in democracy and law in Razgrad

    Vice-President Popova opening the course in democracy and law in Razgrad

  • Lecturer Ulrike Schultz, head of the district authority of Razgrad, Galina Georgieva, and Kremena Ehrmann, IRZ advisor for the cooperation with Bulgaria after the meeting (from left to right)

    Lecturer Ulrike Schultz, head of the district authority of Razgrad, Galina Georgieva, and Kremena Ehrmann, IRZ advisor for the cooperation with Bulgaria after the meeting (from left to right)

  • Vice-President Popova (2nd from right) with the lecturer Ulrike Schultz (2nd from left), the Director of the high school Peicho Georgiev, and Kremena Ehrmann

    Vice-President Popova (2nd from right) with the lecturer Ulrike Schultz (2nd from left), the Director of the high school Peicho Georgiev, and Kremena Ehrmann

The Vice-President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Margarita Popova, opened the course in democracy and law at the Ekzarh-Jossif high school in Razgrad on 29 September 2015 in the presence of the participants and the press. The course addressed students of the tenth, eleventh and twelfth classes. It ended on 2 October. In her welcome address the Vice-President pointed out the importance of democratic and legal awareness for the next generation of civil society. She also thanked the IRZ and the lecturer Ulrike Schultz, who attended some thirty students in this course, for her committed work.

After the course was held in Lovech, Blagoevgrad, Sofia and Pazardzhik, the high school in the northeast of Bulgaria is the fifth school in the country which benefits from this programme. The series of events is a joint project of the IRZ and the Vice-President of the Republic of Bulgaria. It has been taking place since spring 2013.

The programme is based on the legal studies curriculum of the Ministry of Justice of the Federal State of North-Rhine Westphalia, tailored especially to the situation in Bulgaria. Until recently, the lecturer, Ms Ulrike Schultz, was a senior academic staff member (Oberrätin) at the Chair of German and European Constitutional and Administrative Law as well as International Law of the state-maintained distance learning University of Hagen. She plays a decisive role in the development of the legal studies curriculum in NRW.

The lessons are intended to raise young people's awareness of the rule of law and democracy so that they will become highly committed citizens in civil society in the future. Hence, major programme topics are human rights, the rights and obligations of the individual as a citizen, restrictions on the state's actions and the decision-making process in a democracy.

This time Ulrike Schultz was supported by the local court and the municipal public prosecution office. The judges and public prosecutors prepared a moot court in German with the students which they discussed afterwards.

But also other authorities in Razgrad gave the IRZ and Ulrike Schultz a warm welcome. The head of the district authority invited the IRZ and Ms Schultz to learn about the contents and benefits of the course and about the cooperation of the IRZ with Bulgaria. She also presented interesting facts about her district on her part.

The "Course in Democracy and Law" project is meanwhile well-known in Bulgaria's schools all over the country. The IRZ has already received some requests to continue this course next year.

Lessons in Democracy and Law at German-speaking High Schools in Bulgaria

Margarita Popova handing over the Vice-President’s badge of honour and the award certificateMargarita Popova handing over the Vice-President's badge of honour and the award certificate

The IRZ has organised this course for the fourth time in cooperation with the Vice-President of the Republic of Bulgaria. Sixty students from Pazardzhik were able to benefit on this occasion.

A course on Democracy and Law was arranged for seniors at the "Bertolt Brecht" Foreign Language High School in Pazardzhik from 13 to 18 May 2015. Sixty students from two age groups became familiar with the fundamentals of law, the importance of law and courts for the state and individuals, the organisation of the state and opportunities to participate in democracy, among other topics. The programme is based on the legal studies curriculum of the Ministry of Justice of the Federal State of North-Rhine Westphalia, tailored especially to the situation in Bulgaria. Until recently, the lecturer, Ms Ulrike Schultz, was a senior academic staff member (Oberrätin) at the Chair of German and European Constitutional and Administrative Law as well as International Law of the state-maintained distance learning University of Hagen. She plays a decisive role in the development of the legal studies curriculum in NRW.

The lessons are intended to raise young people's awareness of the rule of law and democracy so that they will become highly committed citizens in civil society in the future. Hence, major programme topics are human rights, the rights and obligations of the individual as a citizen, restrictions on the state's actions and the decision-making process in a democracy.

The headmistress of "Bertolt Brecht" Foreign Language High School gave the guests and the participants a warm welcome. The school week was opened by the Vice-President Margarita Popova and the IRZ Head of Section Petra Fortuna in the presence of the students, representatives from politics and government as well as former teachers from Germany and Bulgaria. Marcus Haas, Head of the "Culture and Press" department of the German Embassy in Sofia, pointed out the importance of the project for Bulgaria's civil society. The IRZ was awarded a prize for its long-standing successful commitment to Bulgaria by the Vice-President as part of the event, which kicked off alongside the celebration of the school's 45th anniversary.

"Bertolt Brecht" High School is the fourth school to take part in this series of lessons. In 2013, the course was attended by 150 students in Lovech and by 100 students in Blagoevgrad. In 2014 it was attended by another 90 students from the capital Sofia. It is planned to continue the course in Razgrad this autumn.