Bulgaria Provides Alarmingly Low Protection of Human Rights - NGOSociety | March 21, 2012, Wednesday // 14:37| views
BHC Chair Krasimir Kanev presented Wednesday the annual report of the human rights NGO for 2011. Photo by BGNES
The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) has raised the alarm about the deteriorating level of human rights protection in Bulgaria.
"The situation in the sphere of human rights protection has either collapsed or has remained at a disturbingly low level in a number of fields," the annual report of the BHC for 2011 says.
The document points to a deterioration in a number of areas, most of all in the preservation of the independence of the judiciary, the right to freedom of expression, the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, the misuse of physical force, aiding devices and firearms by the police and the living conditions in prisons and investigative detention facilities.
"The living conditions in some prisons are inhumane and humiliating," said BHC Chair Krasimir Kanev in an interview on Wednesday.
The NGO draws attention to the serious problem of overcrowded prisons.
The document cites the case with the prison in the Black Sea city of Burgas which has housed up to 860-880 inmates in different periods of time despite its capacity for 371 inmates, meaning that some prisoners have had to sleep on the floor.
In January 2012, researchers of the BHC conducted interviews with all inmates serving sentences in the prisons in Vratsa, Pazardzhik, Lovech and Stara Zagora whose pre-trial proceedings had been initiated after January 01, 2010.
Some 27.1% of the respondents complained of police brutality during their arrest.
"A serious cause for concern is the increase in the number of people who confess that have been subjected to police brutality in police departments, at a point when the use of force is almost excluded," Kanev commented.
"In 2011 police brutality and the use of excessive force on the part of the police were on the rise," the BHC warns.
The human right NGO notes that it received numerous complaints about disproportionate force used by the police in 2011, some of which were publicly justified by the Interior Minister and the Chief Secretary of the Interior.
The BHC also draws attention to Bulgaria's failures to implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.
Bulgaria continues to be at the bottom of a ranking due to its particularly low rate of implementation of ECHR decisions.
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