The US on Bulgaria in 2022: Impunity and Corruption, Problems with Media Freedom

Society | March 21, 2023, Tuesday // 08:46|  views

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The US State Department's new 2022 annual human rights report says the Bulgarian government's efforts to address corruption and human rights abuses are "insufficient."

The report said steps had been taken to investigate officials accused of human rights abuses and corruption, but there was a problem of impunity.

Among the country's significant problems noted are "brutal" treatment of groups such as detainees, migrants and children in institutions. Arbitrary arrests, "serious problems" with the independence of the judiciary, a "serious" level of corruption and crimes against minorities, including ethnic and sexual, are also cited.

The detention of former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, former Minister of Finance Vladislav Goranov and publicist Sevdalina Arnaudova was highlighted as an example of illegal arrest in the report. The three were detained last year for 24 hours, when Kiril Petkov's government was in power and Boyko Rashkov was the interior minister, the National Radio recalls. Weeks ago, the US Treasury included Goranov in the sanctions list under the Magnitsky Act.

On the issue of media freedom, the conclusion is that conditions in the country continue to negatively affect media pluralism. Conclusions are also cited that find a high level of political and economic influence on the media in combination with high levels of ownership concentration. Concerns about the independence of public media and "insufficient editorial independence across all types of media" are also cited.

Minority access to the media and defamation lawsuits against journalists who publish articles alleging corruption are also noted as problems.

The report also presents cases of anti-Semitism, adding that "anti-Semitic rhetoric continues to appear regularly on social networks and in the form of comments under media articles online." On the other hand, it is noted that nationalist parties, including "Vazrazhdane" regularly accuse human rights defenders of treason.

The State Department's reports on the status of and respect for human rights and workers' rights in 198 countries and territories are produced as required by law and presented to the US Congress.

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Tags: US, Bulgaria, report, corruption


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