Open Society Institute – Sofia promotes the protection of human right and the rule of law. The Institute is working on improving the access to justice of vulnerable social groups, on strengthening the independence of the judiciary and the democratic accountability of the justice and the law enforcement institutions.
The main activity of the Institute in these fields is carried out through its Legal Programme, which since 2006 has been specializing in carrying out comparative and empirical legal research, monitoring the activity of the institutions, assessing the effectiveness of newly-adopted legislative amendments, presenting and adapting successful practices in the modernization of justice. The Programme is monitoring periodically the changes in public attitudes towards the main democratic values – democracy, rule of law and fundamental human rights, as well as the public attitudes towards hate speech.
The Legal Programme has established successful partnerships with a wide network of NGOs in the country, as well as with a number of national institutions.
In 1999 Open Society Institute – Sofia set up a separate Legal Programme which has been developing as a result of its cooperation with the Constitutional and Legal Policy Institute (COLPI). The primary goal of the Legal Programme was to facilitate the successful integration of the country in the European Union by strengthening the capacity of human rights NGOs, by supporting the modernization of penal procedure and the adoption of the acquis communautaire into the national legal order.
Prior to 2006 the Institute’s Legal Programme provided financial support to a number of Bulgarian NGOs implementing projects on improving the qualification of magistrates, modernization of the penal justice system, protection of the fundamental human rights and provision of access to justice for disadvantaged social groups. In this period the Legal Programme developed and carried out projects facilitating the improvement of the national legal framework for provision of legal aid, the introduction of probation as an alternative of imprisonment, the promotion of the Community Policing model as a tool for strengthening the transparency and accountability of the Ministry of Interior.