US state dept report criticises Bulgaria over intolerance towards refugees, Roma, and anti-Semitism

The annual human rights report by the US state department on Bulgaria said that marginalisation of and societal intolerance towards the Romani minority remained the country’s most pressing human rights problem.

Growing societal intolerance to refugees and continued deterioration of the media environment due to corporate and political dependence were also problematic, according to the report, released on March 3.

Corruption continued to be a drag on the Bulgarian government’s capabilities and undermined public and business confidence in the judiciary and other government institutions.

Other reported human rights problems in Bulgaria included police violence; harsh conditions in prisons and detention facilities; and long delays in the judicial system, the US state department report said.

There were reports of religious discrimination and harassment; shortcomings in refugee integration processes and policies; election fraud; gender-based violence and discrimination against women; violence against children; increasing online anti-Semitism; trafficking in persons; discrimination against persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons; and social stigma against persons with HIV/AIDS.

Child labour and discrimination against members of minorities in employment and occupation were also reported.

The Bulgarian government took steps to prosecute and punish officials in the security services and elsewhere who committed abuses, but their actions were insufficient, and impunity was a problem, the report said.

Observers characterized the parliamentary elections in 2014 as complying “with the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and assembly” but also noted pervasive allegations of vote buying and the use of racist, xenophobic, and inflammatory rhetoric throughout the election campaign, the state department report said.





The Sofia Globe staff

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