Emphasis in the discussion in the National Institute of Justice was the Sectoral Strategy for the Introduction of e-Governance and e-Justice 2014-2020, prepared by the Ministry of Justice and released for public discussion on 14 February 2014. The forum was attended Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications Danail Papazov, Sonia Naydenova representing the Supreme Justice Court (SJC), SJC members, administrative officials, judges, representatives of professional organizations and NGOs, experts with the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications, and e-services experts.
Minister Zlatanova stressed that the introduction of e-justice measures should ensure the same level of efficiency of judicial authorities and their administrations in exercising their competencies. At the same time, they must provide at least the same level of security for the realization of citizens’ legitimate rights and the security of overall turnover - currently achieved with the existing rules for the exchange of information and paper documents.
It was pointed out that in its 2014 Report within the Mechanism for Cooperation, the European Commission had recommended the achievement of real progress in e-Justice as a means to improve the efficiency, transparency and consistency of the judicial process in the short to medium term and in the long term. E-Justice will ensure fairness and transparency in the random assignment of cases, and from there - objectivity in the evaluation of magistrates. Decisions that are suspected to be subjective or influenced by external pressure, including that of heads of the judiciary, can be minimized precisely by e-justice measures.
“I do not want e-justice to be seen as forced surveillance, such as Big Brother, but as a tool for internal monitoring and element of trust and sustainability of procedures. It is true that information technology cannot ensure the rule of law or replace the high morale of magistrates, but it can be an effective mechanism for fairness in the allocation of cases, for the development of the process and, indirectly, for career growth of magistrates,“ the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice said.
Zinaida Zlatanova pointed out that the introduction of e-justice required joint efforts of the executive and the judicial branch, the NGO sector, and representatives of the legal profession - lawyers, notaries and others.
“The draft Sectoral Strategy for the Introduction of e- Governance and e-Justice 2014-2020 is a natural extension of the e-Justice Concept, adopted by the Council of Ministers. In this context, I believe that the introduction of e-justice is an essential part of continuing the judicial reform. It is also a key tool for improving and modernizing judicial activities, which in turn would lead to a faster judicial process. Implementation of e-justice is a guarantee for resources from European Union funds. The professional community is waiting for these opportunities,” Zlatanova said, adding that the availability of EU funds would allow the use of more resources from the judiciary budget to improve the working conditions of magistrates and increase their salaries.