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Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on 2015 visit to Bulgaria

The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published today the report on its most recent visit to Bulgaria (13 to 20 February 2015), together with the response of the Bulgarian authorities.
12/11/2015
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The visit was an opportunity for the CPT to assess the progress in the implementation of its long-standing recommendations and to review, in particular, the treatment and detention conditions of persons held at investigation detention facilities and prisons.

The report concludes that persons detained by the police continue to run a significant risk of being ill-treated, both at the time of apprehension and during subsequent questioning. Further, there has been no progress as regards guaranteeing the practical implementation of the legal safeguards against police ill-treatment. Detained persons often did not receive information about their rights, were not able to notify a third party of their custody and did not benefit from the services of a lawyer from the very outset of their deprivation of liberty.
 
In their response, the Bulgarian authorities indicate a number of proposals to address the concerns raised in the report.

The report further notes that the situation as regards physical ill-treatment of prisoners remains alarming in all the penitentiary establishments visited. Delegation received a number of allegations of deliberate physical ill-treatment (slaps, punches and kicks) of inmates by staff.

In their response, the Bulgarian authorities acknowledge the findings of the CPT and express their utmost concern with respect to the incidents of ill-treatment in penitentiary institutions. The response further outlines a range of measures taken or planned by the authorities to address the issue.

The report also notes that overcrowding remains a problematic issue for the prisons and closed-type prison hostels and that corruption is still endemic in the Bulgarian prison system.
In their response, the Bulgarian authorities refer to the measures proposed by the working group set up in response to the pilot judgement of the European Court of Human Rights Neshkov and Others v. Bulgaria, namely individual approach to initial allocation of sentenced prisoners, changes in the procedure of conditional release, implementation of electronic monitoring and introduction of a preventive remedy. The response also mentions steps to combat corruption.

As regards material conditions of detention, the report notes that all three prisons visited by the delegation, namely Sofia, Burgas and Varna prisons, demonstrate an ever-worsening advanced state of dilapidation and insalubrity.

In their response, the Bulgarian authorities provide detailed information on refurbishments carried out in Sofia Prison and on plans to open two closed-type prison hotels in 2016.

The CPT’s visit report and the response of the Bulgarian Government are available in English on the CPT’s website: http://www.cpt.coe.int.

These documents are also available on the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice's website: http://www.justice.government.bg.


Preventing torture in Europe
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