NGOs and lawyers seek ways to foster access to justice

September 28, 2017. Sofii.  Representatives of the NGOs and environmental lawyers met to discuss ways of overcoming the legislative and institutional pressure on the public participation in decision-making and access to justice. The strategic meeting took place in Sofia's Soho Co-working space.

Dr. Plamen Peev, Senior Legal Expert at BlueLink, presented BlueLink's activities in the partnership with the network of environmental lawyers Justice and Environment (J&E) within the yearly plan for 2017 under the LIFE + Programme of the European Union. They are related to the analysis and improvement of the appropriate assessment practice in the Member States and at EU level; to work on the implementation of Aarhus Convention, especially on the problems with access to justice in Bulgaria and in other Parties to the Convention.

Further the discussion focused on the results of the 6th. Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the Aarhus Convention in Budva, Montenegro as well as on the consequences of the Decision IV/8d on compliance by Bulgaria to issue caution to Bulgaria which could be followed by suspension of the special rights and privileges accorded to Bulgaria concerned under the Convention. Mr. Kodjabashev presented to the participants his ideas and vision for better implementation of Aarhus Convention in Bulgaria in the light of the MOP's decisions and based on his extensive professional experience as an environmental laywer and a member of the Compliance Committee to the Convention. Cases illustrating the challenges and the new forms of pressure on civil society concerning the environment were presented by the laywers Kalin Angelov and Ivan Velov.

Among the outcomes of the meeting was the mutual understanding among NGOs and lawyers that the improved access to justice on environmental matters requires better networking among themselves as well as more conceptualized legal support to the civil society.

BlueLink will publish soon a more detailed review of the outcomes of the strategic meeting.