Post by: Kim Kham
My name is Kim Kham and this summer I had the opportunity to do my first internship with the Rule of Law Institute (RLI) in Bulgaria, an organization affiliated with Advocates International. The two main projects that I worked on while at the Rule of Law Institute dealt with lobbying and required informed consent for an abortion.
Many ex-communist countries’ governments, like Bulgaria’s, are still being rebuilt to this day. As a result, one of the most imperative issues that many advocates of justice in the country are working hard towards is the implementation of legislation on lobbying. Bulgaria currently does not have legislation on lobbying which, many believe, contributes to the rampant corruption in the country and the lack of transparency in the government. Corruption is prevalent in all levels of the government which has also affected the country’s difficulty to move forward and properly rebuild itself. The RLI is currently working with a university in Bulgaria to draft a law on lobbying. Generally, when there is a lack of legislation or regulations in Bulgaria, the country looks to its surrounding neighbors to keep up with the legislative current of Europe. Most of my work on the lobbying project dealt with researching the lobbying regulations of the surrounding European countries. During my time in Bulgaria, I was able to meet many people from all walks of life, occupations, and ages who told me that the main issue the people of Bulgaria have with the government is that there is too much corruption. This project was especially meaningful to me because of my Burmese background and the immense amount of corruption that happens in Bulgaria is almost parallel to Burma.
The other project I worked on dealt with researching the abortion laws of different countries in Europe. Bulgaria currently has very lenient requirements for women wanting to obtain an abortion and the RLI is working towards drafting legislation to require that the woman undergoing an abortion give her full informed consent (including having an ultrasound performed). The Institute says that it is trying to write more pro-life legislation to present to Parliament but that this is just a stepping stone to hopefully one day get there.
One of my favorite parts about the internship was that I was able to sit in on a couple of civil court of appeals hearings, got a personal tour of the whole Palace of Justice from one of the civil court of appeals judges (pictured), and a full description of the justice system in Bulgaria. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Bulgaria and am sad that my time in Bulgaria has now come to an end, but I am very grateful for the opportunities that this summer has presented to me!
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Intern. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.