Indietro Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on 2010 visit to Bulgaria

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) today published the report on its visit to Bulgaria in October 2010, and the response of the Bulgarian authorities.
The majority of the persons interviewed by the CPT's delegation said that they had been correctly treated by the police. Nevertheless, a considerable number of persons alleged physical ill-treatment at the time of their apprehension. In a few isolated cases, the delegation heard allegations of the infliction of electric shocks.

The CPT welcomed an instruction aiming at setting up special police rooms equipped for making full electronic recording of questioning. However, the Committee also recommended that police officers are trained in acceptable interviewing techniques and that a code of conduct of police interviews be drawn up. It also reiterated the need to improve the screening for injuries and their reporting to the competent authorities.

The Committee’ delegation received no allegations of recent physical ill-treatment of detained foreign nationals by police staff working at the Special Home for Temporary Placement of Foreign Nationals in Busmantsi, which is an improvement compared to the situation in 2008. However, there were no signs of improvement as to material conditions.

The CPT noted an increase in the number of persons held in investigation detention facilities since 2008. Further, the positive trend observed in 2006 and 2008 of a reduction in the proportion of persons held in them for long periods of time had not been maintained.

At Plovdiv Prison, the CPT's delegation received a number of allegations of physical ill-treatment of prisoners by staff, and at Varna Prison some allegations of staff assaulting prisoners who were disruptive or disobeyed orders. Inter-prisoner violence was rife at both prisons; the CPT considered this to be the result of the combination of overcrowding with reduced prison staffing, and recommended vigorous action to combat this phenomenon.

The Committee heard no allegations of deliberate physical ill-treatment of patients by staff at Karvuna State Psychiatric Hospital. However, at the forensic ward of Lovech State Psychiatric Hospital there were several allegations of physical ill-treatment of patients, and of rude behaviour and the use of insulting language by certain orderlies. In their response, the Bulgarian authorities informed the CPT that an internal investigation had been carried out, which had led to the dismissal of one orderly and a warning to a security officer.

Inter-patient violence also occasionally occurred at the hospitals visited. The CPT noted that this stemmed from an insufficient staff presence, as well as a lack of alternative therapeutic approaches. The CPT recommended measures to ensure an adequate staff presence and supervision, as well as proper training of staff in handling challenging situations.

Despite certain improvements since the previous visit, the Committee concluded that at the Home for men with psychiatric disorders in Pastra, living conditions for half of its residents, namely those in Building 3, remained unacceptable. In their response, the Bulgarian authorities informed the CPT that the residents accommodated in Building 3 had been moved to other premises.

The CPT’s visit report and the response of the Bulgarian Government, which have been made public at the request of the Bulgarian authorities, are available in English on the CPT’s website:
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