Bulgaria’s draft Penal Code amendments under fire

Draft amendments to Bulgaria’s Penal Code have come under fire from human rights groups and minority political parties on a number of points, including for restricting the possibility to photograph or record corrupt politicians taking bribes and for allowing criminals to avoid going to jail, instead only paying fines.

Human rights watchdog the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee said that the proposed amendments, put forward in late December 2013, contradicted international standards.

There are varying interpretations of the effect that the provisions of the code will have on the ability to take photographs or film footage.

One interpretation is that a provision against photographing people without their express consent would make all photographs such as those of the mass anti-government protests that began in June 2013 unlawful – whether taken by professional media photographers or by individuals who then post such pictures on social networks like Facebook.

The amendments would see anyone taking a photograph or footage in violation of the Penal Code facing up to a year in jail and a fine.

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(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)