Roma issues, worsening media environment highlighted in US state department report on Bulgaria

Written by on February 27, 2014 in Bulgaria - No comments

The marginalisation of the Roma minority remains Bulgaria’s most pressing human rights problem, according to the United States state department annual human rights report, released on February 27 2014.

The report also raised the issues of human rights abuses by security forces, the worsening media environment, corruption and prison conditions.

Observers characterised Bulgaria’s parliamentary elections in May 2013 as complying “with the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and assembly” but also noted pervasive allegations of vote buying and a lack of transparency, the US state department said.

Authorities maintained effective control over the security forces, but security forces committed human rights abuses, including excessive use of force, arbitrary arrest, and harassment and intimidation. There were allegations of unlawful wiretapping, the report noted.

“The continued deterioration of the media environment and increase in media self-censorship due to corporate and political pressure were also problematic.”

Corruption continued to be a drag on the government’s capabilities and undermined public and business confidence in the judiciary and other government institutions, the state department report said.

Other human rights problems included overcrowding and harsh conditions in prisons and detention facilities.

There were also long delays in the judicial system; reports of abuse of wiretapping; religious discrimination and harassment; harsh conditions in refugee centers; violence and discrimination against women; violence against children; increasing online anti-Semitism; trafficking in persons; discrimination against persons with disabilities; discrimination against members of the Romani and Turkish ethnic minorities; and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons and persons with HIV/AIDS.

The government took steps to prosecute and punish officials in the security services and elsewhere in the government who committed abuses, but their actions were insufficient, and impunity was a problem, the report said.

(Photo: Goatly/sxc.hu)

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