Bulgarian President vetoes amendments to eavesdropping law

Bulgaria’s President Rossen Plevneliev said on July 25 that he has vetoed the amendments to the Special Surveillance Means Act, which regulates when and how law enforcement can use eavesdropping.

In his reasoning, Plevneliev said that he welcomed the goals of increased oversight on the use of eavesdropping and limiting their unjustified use, but said that some of the provisions of the amended law overstepped the constitutional separation of the different branches of government, potentially infringing on the authority of the judiciary branch.

The two specific examples given by Plevneliev are the national bureau tasked with oversight of all eavesdropping – not yet created, but mandated by the amendments – and Parliament.

Under the amended eavesdropping law, the bureau will have the right to give outright orders to the institutions that authorise the use of wire-taps, namely the courts, and carry out such activities. “The introduction of the legislative possibility for an institution outside the judiciary to interfere in the internal decisions of the magistrates threatens the independence of the judicial system and could drastically impede the functioning of those institutions,” Plevneliev said.

In the same vein, allowing MPs to oversee court orders and interfere in court matters was unacceptable.

Under Bulgarian law, the presidential veto can be overruled if 121 MPs vote on a motion to do so. The ruling coalition between the socialists and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms has 120MPs in the 240-seat Parliament.

(Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev. Photo: president.bg)



The Sofia Globe staff

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