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European Commission reports on progress in Bulgaria under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism

Strasbourg, 13 November 2018

European Commission reports on progress in Bulgaria under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism

The European Commission adopted today its latest report on steps taken by Bulgaria to meet its commitments on judicial reform, the fight against corruption and organised crime, in the context of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM).

Today's report looks at the progress made over the past year to meet the final 17 recommendations issued by the Commission in the January 2017 report and positively notes Bulgaria's continued efforts and determination to implement those recommendations. The Commission is confident that Bulgaria – if it pursues the current positive trend – will be able to fulfil all the remaining recommendations and thereby the outstanding benchmarks. This will enable the CVM process for Bulgaria to then be concluded before the end of this Commission's mandate – in line with the orientation given by President Jean-Claude Juncker when he started his term of office.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "This report acknowledges that Bulgaria has continued to make steady progress in implementing the final recommendations we set out in January 2017. These reforms are necessary to effectively fight corruption and organised crime. If the current positive trend continues and progress is maintained sustainably and irreversibly, I am confident that the CVM process for Bulgaria can be concluded before the end of this Commission's mandate."  

Over the twelve months since the last report in November 2017, Bulgaria has continued its efforts to implement the recommendations set out in the January 2017 report. The Commission considers that several recommendations have already been implemented and a number of others are very close to implementation. On this basis, three benchmarks (judicial independence, legislative framework and organised crime) out of six can be considered provisionally closed. Given that in some cases developments are ongoing, continued monitoring by the Commission is required to confirm this assessment.

Bulgaria needs to continue to develop a track record of concrete results so as to consolidate the progress made. This positive trend will need to be maintained under the CVM and will need continued monitoring by the Bulgarian authorities after the closure of the CVM. Transparent reporting by the Bulgarian authorities and public and civic scrutiny will play an important role in internalising monitoring at national level and providing the necessary safeguards to maintain the path of progress and reform. In addition, the Commission's report notes a significant deterioration in the Bulgarian media environment over recent years which risks restricting the access of the public to information and can have a negative impact on judicial independence, with targeted attacks on judges in some media. More widely, the ability of the media, as well as of civil society, to hold those exercising power to account in a pluralistic environment free from pressure is an important foundation stone to pursue the reforms covered by the CVM, as well as for better governance more generally.

The Commission is confident that Bulgaria will pursue its reform efforts and will be able to fulfil all the remaining recommendations. It will continue to follow progress closely and will make a further assessment of the progress made before the end of this Commission's mandate. The Commission expects that with this, the CVM process for Bulgaria will be concluded. To achieve this objective, Bulgaria is invited to pursue the current positive trend towards implementation of all remaining recommendations.

Background

On 1 January 2007, the Commission established the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) to assess progress against the commitments made by Bulgaria in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime. Since 2007, the Commission has reported on progress in these areas on a regular basis in written reports to the European Parliament and Council. The reports have benefitted from contacts with Member States, civil society, international organisations, independent experts and a variety of other sources. The Commission's conclusions and the methodology of the CVM have consistently enjoyed the strong support of Member States in Council Conclusions following each report.

The CVM report of January 2017 took stock of 10 years of the CVM, with an overview of the achievements and the remaining challenges, and set out the key remaining steps needed to achieve the CVM's objectives. The Commission made 17 recommendations that, if met by Bulgaria, could be considered as sufficient to close the CVM, unless other developments were to clearly reverse the course of progress. The January report also highlighted that the speed of the process would depend on how quickly Bulgaria will be able to fulfil the recommendations in an irreversible way. A first assessment of progress on the 17 recommendations was adopted in November 2017, but the Commission at that time could not yet conclude that any of the benchmarks were satisfactorily fulfilled.

Today's report takes stock of the steps taken by Bulgaria since November 2017. It contains the Commission's assessment on how the Bulgarian authorities have followed-up on the 17 recommendations, and is complemented by a staff working document which sets out the Commission's detailed analysis, drawing on continuous dialogue between the Bulgarian authorities and the Commission services.

For More Information

MEMO – CVM Reports on Bulgaria and Romania: Questions & Answers

All CVM Reports

Multilevel Governance of Mass Migration in Europe and Beyond

European research team with participation of the Georg August-Universität Göttingen analyses the response of European states to the so-called refugee crisis of 2015


The migration movement to Europe in 2015 has been broadly perceived as a “refugee crisis” and provoked different political and societal responses in several European countries. The research project RESPOND - Governance of Mass Migration in Europe and Beyond analyses these reactions with regards to regulatory frameworks such as border management, protection regimes, reception and integration politics. The project mainly focuses on the regulation of the so-called Balkan route as well as the experiences of refugees.

The Religion and Society Research Centre of the University of Uppsala coordinates the international research consortium with 14 project partners. They come from countries along the flight route from the Middle East through the Balkans until Northern Europe and range e.g. from Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Poland, Austria to Germany. The research project is scheduled for three years from December 2017 until November 2020 with a budget of 470,000 Euros for the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. Within the three years, eight thematic complexes will be analysed in research packages. The university of Göttingen is taking the lead role in the work packages “Border Management and Migration Control” and “Mapping and Assessing Reception Policies”.

Methodologically, the study is grounded in an innovative multi-layered analysis taking into account the interplay of different levels of societal action and perception: The macro-level of policy making in respect to European and national states, the meso-level considering the actions of NGOs and civil society in local contexts and the micro-level, focusing on the life reality of refugees.
The experiences and perceptions of refugees play a central role in the project design. Thereby, the project seeks to explicitly avoid considering refugees/migrants as mere statistical figures or passive recipients of regulatory policies. In contrast, it takes into account that refugees/migrants are a heterogeneous social group with regards to gender, ethnicity, religiosity and class. In addition to interviews and participatory observation, the different involved actors will interact with researchers and scholars in round table discussions and focus groups.

In addition to academic articles, book publications and conferences, RESPOND will result in policy briefs, country reports and comparisons as well as quantitative data. Furthermore, a variety of knowledge transfer projects and formats are planned, including documentary films, art exhibitions, so-called ‘advice hubs’ with and by migrants themselves and roundtable discussions with different societal actors.

Update! 2017 Crime Data Now Included in 50-State Report

Groundbreaking 50-State Report on Public Safety Updated with 2017 Data

October 15, 2018

The CSG Justice Center has released an updated version of the 50-State Report on Public Safety that includes 2017 crime and arrest data. The report is a web-based resource that combines extensive data analyses, case studies and recommended strategies from all 50 states to help policymakers address their state’s specific public safety challenges.

50 state logo-updatedThe 50-State Report on Public Safety features more than 300 data visualizations comparing crime, recidivism and state correctional practices across all 50 states. The report couples these data with the latest research on strategies that work to improve public safety and more than 100 examples of public safety innovations drawn from every state in the country. With three core goals, 12 strategies and 37 action items, the report provides a playbook that policymakers can customize to tackle the issues most relevant to their communities.

“State officials want to keep people safe and healthy, but each state struggles with its own particular combination of challenges with respect to crime, addiction, and mental illness. Data and research are essential to successfully addressing the unique conditions in each state,” said Megan Quattlebaum, Director of the CSG Justice Center. “The 50-State Report on Public Safety is an unparalleled resource that we hope will inform stakeholder conversations about improving public safety and guide action by policymakers across the country.”

Data presented in the report combines publicly available information from dozens of sources with information gleaned from interviews with corrections staff in all 50 states to offer new insights on the latest criminal justice trends.

“There is no shortage of information to examine and consider when it comes to public safety. As the head of a state corrections agency, digesting all of the available data can be overwhelming,” said Bryan Collier, Executive Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. “The 50-State Report on Public Safety organizes a wealth of criminal justice information in one place, creating an important resource that is without equal in its size and scope.”

Highlights of the report’s findings include:

  • Between 2007 and 2017, violent crime rates decreased overall in 31 states. However, violent crime rates increased in rural areas in 16 of those states.
  • The number of drug overdose deaths is almost four times higher than the number of homicides, compared to 20 years ago when they were nearly the same.
  • In 2015, states spent nearly 10 times as much taxpayer money on prison costs than they did on community supervision, despite the fact that there were 1.5 million people in state prison compared to 4.5 million people on probation and parole.
  • Nearly all states track and publish recidivism for people leaving prison, but 32 states use a narrow definition that only includes reincarceration, not rearrests and reconvictions. Only 11 states collect and publish any measure of recidivism for the millions of people starting probation supervision each year.
  • All but 8 states saw an increase in correctional populations in the last decade, and 24 states are projecting growth in their prison populations.
  • In 2014, at least 40 percent of people in prison had been convicted of property or drug offenses in 16 states.

“States are facing a wide range of public safety challenges from increasing crime rates in some communities and a surge in drug-related deaths to high recidivism rates and rising correctional costs,” said Alabama State Sen. Cam Ward. “This report gives policymakers a blueprint for achieving results, and the strategies offered here will be useful for years to come.”

The report builds on work started last year at the 50-State Summit on Public Safety, hosted by the CSG Justice Center in partnership with the Association of State Correctional Administrators. The summit brought together critical voices in criminal justice policy from all 50 states, including state legislators, corrections leaders, law enforcement officials and behavioral health professionals, to discuss the complex landscape of crime, arrests and correctional-system trends across the country.

“The Council of State Governments Justice Center continues to provide criminal justice stakeholders with new analysis and insight,” said Commissioner Marie Williams of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “The 50-State Report on Public Safety highlights the intersection of the behavioral health and public safety systems and illustrates why states need a comprehensive strategy to address the needs of people in the criminal justice system who struggle with mental illness and substance addiction.”

To meaningfully advance local public safety efforts, participants at the summit recognized the need for easy-to-interpret data, along with concrete strategies supported by research and examples, to better understand and address trends in crime, recidivism, mental health, substance addictions and prison and jail spending. As a continuation of the summit, the CSG Justice Center is currently working with more than 15 states to facilitate statewide forums on public safety with a broad coalition of stakeholders.

“Without a clear understanding of why and where crime is occurring, law enforcement cannot develop effective strategies to improve public safety in our communities,” said Anthony Campbell, the chief of police in New Haven, Conn. “The 50-State Report on Public Safety illustrates why data is such an instrumental tool in combatting crime.”

Funding for the 50-State Report on Public Safety was provided by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Cambridge Research: Children of the city: tackling violence in the 21st century

 

Up to one billion children worldwide are estimated to be victims of violence. Now, an intended study of 12,000 children in eight cities worldwide wants to discover what it really means to be a child of the city today – the adversities, the vulnerabilities, the resilience.

 

By comparing a new generation from each city, we can build a scientific backbone for interventions to prevent violence against children

Manuel Eisner

It’s 1960 and two boys are born into cities of different nations about to gain independence from the British. Their homelands have comparable GDP per capita, similar literacy rates and roughly the same levels of crime and violence.

Now nearing 60 years old, they are about to have grandsons of their own. The boy born in Kingston, Jamaica, will have a startling 15% chance of growing up to be a victim of homicide, if current murder rates continue. The grandson born in Singapore will have less than a 0.1% risk of violent death.   

How did these countries diverge over a single lifetime until they were at opposite ends of the spectrum of violence? Some blame politics, while others point to drug trade exposure or differences in crime prevention and health policies. 

State legitimacy waxes and wanes, illegal markets bubble and burst, neighbourhoods thrive or deteriorate – and all these fluctuations trickle down to entrench order or violence in millions of lives from childhood onwards. Yet we know little about how this happens.

“Experiences in the first years of life shape a person’s lifelong development,” says Manuel Eisner, Wolfson Professor at Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology. “If we want to understand the roots of adversity that lead a nation to violence and turmoil, we need to understand how it incubates in a child of that society.   

“For example, what does a child in Kingston experience – even before birth – that may increase the risk of failure at school, or mental and physical health problems, or criminality and substance use? How does that compare with children in the cities of South Africa, or East Asia?”

Eisner argues that everything from national and municipal systems, such as infrastructure and education, to proximal environments – the street, family and even uterus – contribute to the “psychosocial construction” of children, and consequently the stability of societies in which those children become citizens.   

His goal is to map the risk factors that influence early child development around the world, from the political to the hormonal. To do this, Eisner and his colleagues on the Evidence for Better Lives Study (EBLS) intend to follow 12,000 children yet to be born in eight cities in Jamaica, Ghana, South Africa, Romania, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and the Philippines.

1,000 days of life

Children will be tracked from the womb through the first 1,000 days of life, and hopefully on to adolescence, in a major birth cohort study that Eisner wants to see become a valuable resource for “understanding and promoting child wellbeing in the 21st century”. The ambition is to identify how policy can most effectively stem societal violence and “foster resilience”.

“For the first time in history, there are goals at a global level aimed at reducing child abuse, exploitation and all forms of violence, and to promote children’s mental health,” says Eisner, describing the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. “The EBLS is our response to this challenge. It will provide important evidence for system-level changes to tackling violence against children. But it can also shine light on how violence evolves.

“If we want to address high levels of violence in a city like Kingston, we need to know the ages when active ingredients are added to young people’s development. Then we can design the right intervention strategies.”   

 

Illicit Drug Data Report (IDDR) is now available on the Australian Institute of Criminology’s (AIC) Crime Statistics Australia (CSA) website

Information and data from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s Illicit Drug Data Report (IDDR) is now available on the Australian Institute of Criminology’s (AIC) Crime Statistics Australia (CSA) website—an interactive gateway to statistics and information on Australian crime and justice issues.

The IDDR is the only report of its type in Australia, providing governments, law enforcement agencies and interested stakeholders with a national picture of the illicit drug market and includes arrest, detection, seizure, purity, profiling, clandestine laboratory and price data.

The IDDR CSA site—which features a range of infographics and graphs detailing the latest findings, as well as access to some historical data—will offer greater accessibility to the unique and valuable data contained in the report, as well as providing greater functionality to users.

To view the Crime Statistics Australia Illicit Drug Data Report website visit: http://crimestats.aic.gov.au/IDDR/
 

Ruth Dreifuss and Peter Reuter awarded the Stockholm Prize in Criminology 2019

 

STOCKHOLM JUNE 10–12, 2019

 

The Stockholm Criminology Symposium

 

The next Stockholm Criminology Symposium takes place June 10–12, 2019. We hope to see you then. The main theme will be Research-Guided Drug Policies.

 

Register

 

Ruth Dreifuss and Peter Reuter awarded the Stockholm Prize in Criminology

 

The Stockholm Prize in Criminology will be presented on June 11, 2019, at Stockholm City Hall.The jury is proud to award the 2019 prize to Ruth Dreifuss (Switzerland) and Professor Peter Reuter (USA). The winners will receive the prize sum of at least 1,000,000 SEK. Read more about the prize winners.

 

 

The main theme for the 2019 Stockholm Criminology Symposium will be Research-Guided Drug Policies. The other theme is Contemporary criminology. The full program for 2019 will be presented March 2019.

New AIC and ACCCE research initiative to reduce Child Exploitation Material

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) are today co-hosting the Child Exploitation Material (CEM) Reduction Research Program Roundtable in Brisbane.

The Child Exploitation Material Reduction Research Program will bring together multi-disciplinary research teams to explore new solutions to reduce CEM from both a crime prevention and crime detection perspective.

The Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon. Peter Dutton MP opened the roundtable event.

AIC Deputy Director Dr Rick Brown said the event was an opportunity for potential applicants to meet key stakeholders, hear about issues in tackling the problem, and help generate ideas.

“Each year, substantial numbers of individuals seek to view CEM by participating in online networks that share and trade materials or by paying for access to obtain materials for individual use,” Dr Brown said.

“As with other forms of cybercrime, law enforcement agencies have been inundated with reports involving CEM that make investigation and subsequent prosecution beyond the resources of many police and prosecution agencies.

“In addition to pursuing official criminal justice action, a number of alternative approaches can be adopted to tackle the problem,” he said.

AFP Deputy Commissioner Operations Neil Gaughan said the program would contribute to the ACCCE’s mission to drive a national response to counter child exploitation.

“Last year the AFP received about 9,700 reports of child exploitation material. So far this year, that figure is already over 15,000. That’s 15,000 reports which can contain hundreds if not thousands of images and videos of children being sexually abused.”

“As the problem of child exploitation continues to grow, we must respond as a whole community in a coordinated, consolidated and informed way. The research from this program will help to identify new solutions to this critical issue, and ultimately see children freed from exploitation.”

The Child Exploitation Material Research Program has been funded for $800,000 over two year under Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

The program will aim to result in robust evidence that will be used to inform changes to policy and practice.

The approach to market was released via AusTender in October, with research proposals to be submitted by 27 November.