Bulgarian Helsinki Committee to File Lawsuit at ECtHR over Hate Speech by Ataka PartyBulgaria in EU | January 22, 2013, Tuesday // 14:57| views
The BHC will file a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights over the dissemination of hate speech against the Roma by nationalist party Ataka and its leader Volen Siderov. Photo by BGNES
The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) will file a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) over the dissemination of hate speech against the Roma by nationalist party Ataka.
In a Tuesday statement, the BHC states that it will address the ECtHR on behalf of three Bulgarian citizens of Roma origin.
The human rights NGO reminds of the Katunitsa case in September 2011, when a criminal case led to anti-Roma protests all over the country, which caused Ataka to start distributing a particularly dangerous racist brochure titled "Gypsy crime—a danger for the country" alongside agitational leaflets in support of Volen Siderov's bid for Bulgarian President.
In end-September, the death of 19-year-old Angel Petrov, an ethnic Bulgarian, who got run over by a minivan driven by a man linked to the local Roma clan leader Kiril Rashkov, aka Tsar Kiro, unleashed violent clashes in the village of Katunitsa, and a number of rallies throughout the country
The brochure disseminated by Ataka, without specifying the original source of the data, ascribes horrible crimes to the Roma by suggesting that the Roma community as a whole is a source of crime which endangers the country.
The BHC emphasizes that the prosecuting authority in three subsequent instances refused to initiate pretrial proceedings over the case, despite the fact that incitement to ethnic hatred and discrimination is a crime listed in the Penal Code.
Bulgaria is also obliged under international and EU law to prosecute efficiently and impose adequate penalties to the perpetrators of such hate crimes.
The abovementioned trial is to be the first of a series of such trials which the NGO intends to start at the ECHtR over the dissemination of hate speech by Ataka and its leader, cited in the BHC statement as "a party represented in Parliament and its leader who is famous for his highly xenophobic and racist talk."
The next trials will be a continuation of the activities of the Civil Coalition "Citizens Against Hatred" launched personally against the Volen Siderov in 2006.
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