Bulgaria's Interior Ministry to Restrict Use of Force, Firearms

Domestic | January 31, 2012, Tuesday // 16:21|  views

Deputy Interior Minister Veselin Vuchkov has said that Bulgaria has lost over 30 trials at the European Court of Human Rights for police use of excessive force. Photo by BGNES

Reforms at the Interior Ministry will include the introduction of legal amendments stipulating the standard of "absolute necessity for the use of firearms and other police-related tools," according to Deputy Interior Minister Veselin Vuchkov.

Speaking at a Tuesday conference on reforms at the Interior, he said that the Interior Ministry Act would be changed in response to over 30 trials against Bulgaria for illegal use of weapons by the police won at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

"Despite the fact that these trials concern a period before 2004, the current working of the law is obviously creating problems. We have the final version of the provisions that will be proposed to Parliament. We shall try to convince MPs that it is necessary to correct the Interior Ministry Act so as to introduce the standard required by the European Convention on Human Rights," Vuchkov stated.

He told journalists that the proposed amendments aimed at limiting the use of force and firearms against non-violent suspects would be presented at a special press conference.

One year ago, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) urged the Interior to immediately start training its officials about the "absolute necessity for the use of firearms and other police-related tools" standard, saying that the state had already spent around BGN 906 000 on compensations paid to victims of police brutality in cases heard at the European Court of Human Rights.

BHC pointed out that in the 12 years up to 2010 the European Court of Human Rights had delivered 27 guilty verdicts against Bulgaria over excessive force by police officers.

Faced with a growing number of complaints of police brutality, the Interior Ministry announced on Monday that it was working on a human rights protection project under a program of the European Commission.

According to the Interior's press office, the project aims to evaluate police activities' compliance with human rights standards in Bulgaria, in Poland and Germany and will set down guidelines for the training of all police officers in EU member countries and candidate countries.

Under a pilot experiment, a training for officials of the Interior Ministry directorates in Sofia, Pernik and Pazardzhik will be held until April 2012.

The training program will be launched in other district directorates in September.

After last week's violent raid of the home of the Nachkovi family in the village of Mirovyane, Kalin Georgiev, Chief Secretary of the Interior, admitted that the operation had been poorly conducted and announced that a nationwide congress would be held to streamline operations and improve the conduct of officials.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov criticized the Interior and was adamant that a new case of police brutality would be punished by dismissals of senior officials.

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Tags: Veselin Vuchkov, interior ministry, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, police brutality, European Court of Human Rights, European Convention on Human Rights, training, human rights


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