Controversy over Bulgaria’s draft Penal Code deepens further

As human rights lawyers and political critics sift further through the draft proposed new Penal Code, new controversies continue to emerge, this time over a vaguely-worded provision penalising Bulgarians in the service of another country or foreign organisation “to the detriment of the Republic”.

This is the latest provision to have set alarm bells ringing, after others including restrictions on photography and filming and on disclosure of secrets, both seen by critics as – at very least – set to make the battle against political corruption in Bulgaria more difficult.

The package of proposals was rushed out at the end of 2013 under the aegis of Zinaida Zlatanova, justice minister in the Bulgarian Socialist Party government, and since then has come under fire for, among other things, providing for severe penalties on a random basis for offences that are widely and poorly-defined.

It also has emerged that some of the controversial provisions were floated previously when the centre-right GERB government was in power, but were not proceeded with after lawyers expressed concerns about them.

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(Photo: Jason Morrison/