Bulgaria’s Cabinet approved on July 6 2016 an anti-terrorism bill that will give far-reaching powers to the police, military and other security services, including internet surveillance and powers to commandeer civilians’ cars and enter offices and private homes during anti-terrorist operations.
The bill is to be tabled in the National Assembly, the government information service said.
Police and armed forces will be empowered to enter homes and offices if these are in the zone of an anti-terrorist operation.
Private vehicles may be commandeered in pursuit of terrorists or for transporting people to hospital.
The vehicles of diplomatic missions and international organisations will be exempt from seizure.
The bill obliges mobile phone operators to provide immediate access to traffic data in case of direct risk of a terrorist act. It enables the deletion of information in the area of an operation if it threatens the life and health of the population.
It authorises the State Agency for National Security to use undercover agents.
The bill creates four stages of readiness, ranging from green, which means continuous readiness, to red, which includes proceeding with measures to combat terrorism. It also creates three levels of threat of terrorist attack.
Provision for preventative measures includes an obligation for owners of buildings of public importance, as well as schools and kindergartens, to develop and implement counter-measures against terrorist acts.
If during an anti-terrorist operation, an individual or company incurs pecuniary damage, they will be entitled to compensation.
Overall management of activities to counter terrorism is assigned to the government and the National Counterterrorism Centre which will be set up at the State Agency for National Security.
A state of emergency because of a terrorist act may be proclaimed by a presidential decree or a decision by the National Assembly.
The bill allows the temporary restriction of certain civil rights in the event of a terrorist attack or potential danger of a terrorist attack.
If there is evidence leading to a reasonable assumption that an individual or group of people are connected to preparations for a terrorist attack, their movements may be limited and their identity documents withdrawn. The procedure will be subject to judicial review.
The bill also provides for indemnification of natural and legal persons in regard to property damages during or in connection with carrying out statutory action to prevent and curb the menace of terrorism and to overcome the consequences of terrorism.
On July 5, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boiko Borissov convened a special meeting of the National Security Council over the draft anti-terrorism bill.
The meeting was attended by the Minister of interior, Minister of Defence, the Foreign Minister, the Minister of Finance, the Chief of Defence, the chief secretary of the Interior Ministry, the heads of SANS, of the Intelligence Agency, the chief of Military Intelligence, the head of the National Protection Service, the Secretary of the Security Council and two representatives of Bulgaria’s President.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)