Bulgaria’s Cabinet said on July 15 that it would table amendments to the Classified Information Protection Act that would allow officials under investigation to retain their access to classified information because of the presumption of innocence.
In its current form, the law stipulates that clearance to access classified information can only be issued if there is no pending investigation against the recipient, meaning that such access is revoked automatically should an official become the target of any investigation involving suspicion of premeditated wrongdoing.
But this requirement breached both the Bulgarian constitution, which enshrines the presumption of innocence, and the European Convention on Human Rights, the government’s media service said in a statement.
The “formal application” of the current law “leads to significant negative repercussions for individuals without proven guilt, or even in cases when investigations are terminated or end in an acquittal,” the statement said.
Such repercussions include a one-year ban from holding a position requiring access to classified information if an official was denied clearance and a three-year ban if clearance was revoked. The bill envisions clearing all currently outstanding bans.
In the past, this provision has led to the resignation of more than one official when investigations against them were launched, because they were put in a situation where they could not carry out their jobs because of lost classified information clearance, but if Parliament passes the Cabinet’s bill, that would no longer be the case.
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