Bulgaria’s cabinet adopts EC directive on asylum and refugees

Bulgaria’s government approved on August 5 proposed amendments to the Asylum and Refugees Act, transposing the provisions of a 2013 European Commission directive on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection.

The directive focuses on the rights of asylum seekers, and in particular their right of access to legal aid, to procedural information, meetings with legal advisers or consultants and access to information gathered during the examination of an application for international protection of signifcance to the making of the decision.

The bill expressly provides a right of access to asylum-seekers, representatives of UNHCR and NGOs, lawyers and persons providing legal assistance and advice wherever the asylum-seeker is, a border checkpoint, transit area, detention centre or accommodation.

Included are texts that ensure that asylum-seekers are informed about procedures for applying for international protection, the procedures followed and the consequences thereof.

Subject to the provisions of the directive, the bill updates the reasons why an application for granting refugee status or humanitarian status would be clearly unfounded.

The deadline for deciding on the application is extended, with the aim to guarantee the integrity of the examination of the application.

The process of examining applications is optimised by cancelling the the practice of mandatory proceedings for determining the EU member state responsible for examining an application for international protection.

With the adoption of the bill, Bulgaria will fulfill its commitment to introduce legislation of general and the highest standards defined in the process of building a common European asylum system, in strict respect of fundamental rights, a government media statement said.

The amendments are subject to approval by Bulgaria’s unicameral Parliament, the National Assembly.

(Photo: Ben Melrose/V Photo Agency)



The Sofia Globe staff

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