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European anti-torture Committee publishes Bulgarian report

A report today from the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) assesses the treatment of people held in police stations, prisons and other places of detention in Bulgaria.
28/01/2002
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The report, published after receiving a green light from the Bulgarian authorities, together with their responses, covers a visit by the CPT from 25 April to 7 May 1999.

The Committee received numerous allegations of police ill-treatment: mainly slaps, punches, kicks and blows with a truncheon, but also electric shocks and beating on the soles of the feet. In some cases, medical evidence of such methods was gathered. In response to the CPT's recommendations, the Bulgarian authorities have taken measures to step up control of police activities and intensify police human rights training.

The report also severely criticises conditions in the country's investigation detention facilities. The Bulgarian authorities highlight legislative and practical changes made, such as the closing down of basement cells and the construction of new buildings with areas for outdoor exercise.

At Burgas Prison, the CPT's delegation was inundated with allegations of physical and verbal abuse of inmates by prison staff, and had the distinct impression that "the prison was run by fear". A subsequent investigation by the Bulgarian authorities confirmed the claims, and management changes were made which have proved positive.

A social institution for men with mental disorders in Terter (Kubrat region), where conditions were of deep concern to the Committee, was closed down by the Bulgarian authorities after the 1999 visit, and the residents moved to a better facility.

The CPT plans to return to Bulgaria for another visit in 2002.