Bulgaria’s anti-terrorism law gives military wide powers in event of terrorist attack

Bulgaria’s National Assembly has approved the second and final reading of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, giving the military wide powers in the event of a terrorist attack and introducing a range of other measures, including a limit on the number of prepaid SIM cards an individual may own.

If there is a terrorist attack in Bulgaria, the country’s military will have the right to detain people, to search them, their personal belongings and their cars and to check their identities.

Identity checks will apply not only to suspected terrorists but all who pass through organised military checkpoints or any strategically important sites being guarded by the military. The identity checks will rely not only on personal documents but also on information from citizens whose identities have been verified and who know the individual.

The military will be able to enter homes without the owner’s consent and even in the owner’s absence.

They will have the right to use physical force and firearms as a last resort.

Not only those about whom there is evidence that they are preparing a terrorist act may be detained, but also anyone who deliberately obstructs officials who are carrying out their duties under the anti-terrorism law. Also subject to detention will be people who violate public order or represent other manifest dangers.

Those detained will be handed over to the Interior Ministry, with their personal data recorded as well as the circumstances in which the arrest was made.

Premises may be searched without consent or in the absence of the owner, to prevent a terrorist attack, to detain a suspect, assist a victim or in “other cases of extreme necessity”. The results will be recorded in a written statement, which will have to be signed by the owner or occupant of the room.

The use of physical force will be based on the principle of “absolute necessity” – for failure to fulfill an order, resistance, an escape attempt, attacks against civilians.

Weapons may be used by the military as a last resort – in armed attacks, freeing hostages, and for self-defence. The specific rules for dealing with such situations will be determined by the Defence Minister on the basis of proposals by the Defence Chief.

If there is an imminent threat of terrorist attack, the Prime Minister will establish a national operational headquarters for management of forces and means to counter terrorism.

This headquarters will involve, apart from cabinet ministers and heads of government and stte agencies, the Prosecutor-General. The headquarters, which will be headed by the interior minister, will be accountable to the Prime Minister, President and Speaker of Parliament for the implementation of specific measures.

The bill prohibits the registration of more than 10 prepaid SIM cards. ISPs will need to provide immediate information about traffic data upon request.

Upon identifying foreign webpages whose content incites to terrorism or which disseminate knowledge about terrorist activities, the Interior Ministry and the State Agency for National Security (SANS) will petition the head of the Special Court to bar access to these sites. These webpages will be checked every three months by the Interior Ministry and SANS.

The period for surveillance on suspicion of involvement in terrorism is set at three years.

The government will have to adopt a strategy for countering radicalisation and terrorism and a national anti-terrorism plan. In carrying out these obligations, the government will be assisted by the Security Council.

The bill sets forth three levels of threat and four levels of readiness of anti-terror units.




The Sofia Globe staff

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