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April 07th, 2020

Human rights in Bulgaria are under attack

topic:Human Rights
type:Donation, NGO, Petition
by:Yair Oded

Despite joining the European Union in 2007, Bulgaria continues to falter on its commitment to defend human rights in its territory. 

This is evident in multiple spheres, in rampant violations of women’s and children's rights, refugee's rights, widespread police brutality, and ongoing attacks on freedom of the press. 

Late last year, the Bulgarian deputy prime minister (who is also the minister of defense), Krasimir Karakachanov, called to shut down the country’s most formidable human rights organisation - the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC). Supported by members of his far-right party, Karakachanov submitted a request for the General Prosecutor to launch an investigation into BHC’s activities, which he claims interfere with the legal mechanisms of the state and therefore warrant the organisation’s shut-down.

The government’s attack on BHC constitutes nothing short of a declaration of war on human rights and the agencies that vow to defend them from violations perpetrated by the State. 

Since its establishment in 1992, BHC has been working tirelessly to promote and defend human rights in Bulgaria.

The committee monitors the human rights situation in Bulgaria and carefully records any cases of their violation. 

The committee publicises its findings and reports “on human rights violations with a special emphasis on the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, refugees and asylum-seekers, rights of the child, protection from torture and ill-treatment, freedom of expression and association, problems of the criminal justice system.”  

BHC also runs a defense legal program which provides legal representation to victims of human rights violations in both domestic and international courts, and conducts workshops, conferences, and various campaigns aimed at raising public awareness and education around the issue of human rights in Bulgaria. 

Numerous NGO’s have expressed their solidarity with BHC since news of the government’s attack on the committee broke out. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also criticised the attempt to shut down the organisation.

But this isn’t enough. Widespread support of BHC must take place in order to both protect the committee from closure and send a clear message to the Bulgarian authorities that the public will not tolerate its blatant disregard for human rights. 

Please visit BHC’s website to learn more about its activities, view its literature and reports on human rights violations in Bulgaria, pledge a donation, and access its various ongoing petitions (available both in English and Bulgarian). 

Image: Србија Данас

bghelsinki.org