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Fundamental rights - Bulgaria

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National Courts

National Human Rights Institutions

Ombudsperson

Specialised human rights bodies

Other

National Courts

Any Bulgarian judge can hear cases in connection with EU fundamental rights law, since the Charter of Fundamental Rights is part of primary European legislation (it applies to the same extent as the Lisbon Treaty). Therefore, Bulgarian citizens can petition the Provincial Court and invoke the Charter if they consider that they have been denied their fundamental rights. The same applies to fundamental rights, which are enshrined in the Bulgarian Constitution, and to provisions of international treaties to which Bulgaria is a party.

Complaints against administrative decisions can be submitted to the administrative courts and the Supreme Administrative Court.

Every court in Bulgaria has its own website showing how it is organised and what it does. The website of the Link opens in new windowSupreme Judicial Council (Link opens in new windowhttp://www.vss.justice.bg/bg/start.htm) has a detailed list of Bulgarian courts with their addresses and websites (in Bulgarian only).

National Human Rights Institutions

Please refer to ‘Ombudsperson’.

Ombudsperson

Ombudsperson of the Republic of Bulgaria

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

The Ombudsperson investigates complaints about abuses of civil rights and freedoms at the hands of any public authority. This is defined very broadly: the Ombudsperson investigates complaints made by any member of the public, including children, the handicapped, minorities, foreign nationals, etc., about violations of their political, economic, civil, social, cultural or any other rights or freedoms.

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

Complaints can be submitted by post, in person, by e-mail or even orally. Every complaint is officially registered. Complaints are handled by the reception department (‘priemna’) and the registry (‘delovodstvo’). Desk officers are available to receive members of the public in person or answer their telephone calls. The reception department has been in place since 5 January 2006 and is open every day. On Thursdays, the Ombudsperson also receives members of the public personally, by prior appointment, between 9.00 and 12.30.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

Any member of the public, irrespective of citizenship, gender, political persuasion or religion, may submit complaints to the Ombudsperson. Anonymous complaints or complaints about events dating back more than two years are not examined. The Ombudsperson may launch investigations at his own initiative if he believes it is in the public interest to do so.

Complaints are recorded in a register, after which the head of the Ombudsperson’s office forwards them to the appropriate internal service for further processing. The head of the department assigns the case to a case-handler, who has one month to investigate. For complex cases this time-limit is three months. The case-handler may ask the complainant for additional information or require government services to take certain steps or provide certain information. National and local authorities, legal entities (such as companies) and members of the public must cooperate with the Ombudsperson and have a duty to share any information they have obtained in an official capacity. The complainant may be referred to another authority if the matter can be dealt with there, unless the Ombudsperson sees it as imperative that it be handled by his office. If the Ombudsperson does not have powers to handle the case, he will not examine it. The Ombudsperson informs the complainant accordingly and refers him/her to the proper authority. If the complainant agrees, the Ombudsperson may forward the complaint to that authority.

The Ombudsperson can, at any time, offer to mediate on a voluntary basis. The proposal to do so is sent to both the complainant and the service against which the complaint has been made. If both accept, the Ombudsperson will assist in every way possible to settle the conflict, for example by establishing contact or assisting in negotiations between the parties.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

The Ombudsperson can give the offending service recommendations on measure it can take to ensure that the problem does not recur. The Ombudsperson regularly discusses problems on his website forwards his observations to the authorities and the media. If the Ombudsperson finds that the problem lies with the law, he may recommend the government and parliament to change it. If the he finds that certain laws are in breach of the Constitution and violate civil rights and civil liberties, he can bring a case before the Constitutional Court. If he finds contradictions in case law, he has the authority to bring the matter before the Supreme Court of Cassation or the Supreme Administrative Court for an interpretative ruling.

Specialised human rights bodies

  • Equality Body

1. Discrimination Commission

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

Discrimination Commission (also known as Commission for the Protection Against Discrimination, Bulgarian abbreviation: KZD)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

Cases can be brought:

  • on the basis of a written complaint from the victim;
  • at the Discrimination Commission's own initiative;
  • on the basis of a complaint from members of the public, organisations or official bodies.

If the events date back more than three years, the complaint will not be examined or, if an investigation is already ongoing, the case will be closed. If the matter has already been taken to court, the complaint will not be examined. If the complaint is withdrawn or if the complainant does not correct a mistake within the time-limit set by the Discrimination Commission, the case will be closed.

The complaint must include:

  • the name of the complainant;
  • the address of the complainant or, if the complainant is a legal entity, the contact address and registered address;
  • the facts of the case: when and where did who do what to whom, and why was this an act of discrimination?
  • the remedy sought. This must be within the powers of the Discrimination Commission, which are laid down in the Discrimination Act (ZZD). Complainants must provide written or other evidence, or make it clear what evidence they feel the Discrimination Commission should examine, such as witnesses it should hear, documents not in the complainant’s possession, etc.;
  • the date and the signature of the complainant or his/her representative.
  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

The chairperson of the Discrimination Commission allocates the file to a panel specialised in the type of discrimination at hand. The panel appoints a chairperson and a reporter from amongst its members. The reporter collects the written evidence needed to document the facts. The investigation must be completed within 30 days. For complex cases, the Discrimination Commission’s chairperson may extend this deadline by another 30 days. When the investigation is completed, the reporter presents his/her findings to the panel’s chairperson. The chairperson sets a date for a public hearing and invites the parties to attend.

The Discrimination Commission has powers to:

  • require documents and other information needed for the investigation;
  • require explanations from those under investigation;
  • examine witnesses.

All members of the public, legal entities and public authorities have a duty to cooperate with the Discrimination Commission by supplying information and documentation and providing clarification in writing whenever asked to do so. Refusal may result in a fine.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

At the first meeting, the chairperson of the panel invites the parties to resolve their dispute amiably. If they do, the resulting agreement is laid down in writing and the case is closed. If the parties come to a partial resolution, the proceedings continue. The partial agreement is laid down in writing and endorsed by the panel. It is binding on both parties and is enforced by the Discrimination Commission.

If no agreement can be reached, the Discrimination Commission judges the case on its merits within 14 days following the public hearing.

In its ruling the Discrimination Commission may:

  • establish that an offence has been committed;
  • identify the offender and the victim;
  • impose a penalty or binding administrative measures;

The binding administrative measures the Discrimination Commission can take are:

  • give employers and public officials binding instructions to address discriminatory rules and practices;
  • suspend an employer’s unlawful internal rules that result or could result in discriminatory conduct.

The rulings of the Discrimination Commission are subject to appeal before the Sofia City Administrative Court within 14 days. The Commission enforces compliance with its decisions.

2. National Council for Gender Equality

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

National Council for Gender Equality of the Ministerial Council (also known as the National Council for Equality between Women and Men, Bulgarian abbreviation: NSRZhM)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

The National Council for Gender Equality ensures that government bodies and non-governmental organisations work together in developing and carrying out the national gender equality policy by facilitating consultations, cooperation and coordination.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

The National Council for Gender Equality

  • advises the Ministerial Council;
  • examines gender aspects of draft legislation and decisions;
  • examines draft decisions drawn up by the Council of Ministers for consistency with its gender policies;
  • coordinates national gender policies between the Government and non-governmental organisations and sees to it that Bulgaria fulfils its international obligations;
  • proposes national gender policy measures, either independently or jointly with the Discrimination Commission;
  • maintains contacts with its counterparts abroad and international organisations promoting gender equality;
  • helps social partners and non-governmental organisations carry out their national and regional projects promoting gender equality and a better work-life balance, and monitors the results;
  • organises gender research.
  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

Development and implementation of the national policy on gender equality.

Data Protection Body

1. Commission for Personal Data Protection

  • Contact point
    Bul. Akademik Ivan Evstratiev Geshov 15
    Sofia 1431, Bulgaria
    Tel. + 359 2 91 53 518
    Fax: + 359 2 91 53 525
    E-mail: Link opens in new windowkzld@cpdp.bg

Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.cpdp.bg/

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

Commission for Personal Data Protection (Bulgarian abbreviation: KZLD)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

This Commission assists the government in carrying out its personal data protection policy and handles complaints about breaches of personal data security.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

Anyone has the right to report personal data security breaches to the Commission within one year after they were discovered and within five years after they took place. The first to examine the case is the Legal Procedures and Supervision Directorate, which recommends the appropriate procedure. The Commission then meets behind closed doors to decide whether the case is admissible and what procedure should be followed. It may launch an enquiry, collect evidence or obtain recommendations from third parties. If the case is found to be admissible, the parties involved are duly informed. A date is set for a public hearing, and the parties are invited to attend together with any interested third parties. The Commission gives a decision within 30 days after the breach was reported. It may issue binding instructions to the offending party, impose a deadline by which the cause of the breach must be removed or impose an administrative penalty. The decision is subject to appeal before the Supreme Administrative Court within 14 days following receipt.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

Members of the public, legal entities or government bodies can ask the Commission to give its opinion about draft legislation. Furthermore the Commission can issue binding instructions to personal data administrators and impose temporary bans on the processing of personal data where personal data protection standards have been breached.

Other specialised bodies

1. National Council for Ethnic Minorities and Integration

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

National Council for Ethnic Minorities and Integration of the Ministerial Council (Bulgarian abbreviation: NSEIV)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

All ethnic issues are dealt with by this body. It has no specific department dealing with complaints or requests, but its secretariat will handle them when the need arises.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

The National Council for Ethnic Minorities and Integration is a consultative and coordinating body assisting the Ministerial Council in developing and implementing policy on ethnic minorities and their integration. It facilitates cooperation between the government and non-governmental organisations defending the interests of ethnic minorities and promoting inter-ethnic relations. Furthermore it coordinates and oversees the implementation of the National Action Plan for the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015. Every province has its own council for ethnic minorities and integration that works with the provincial governor. Municipal councils may set up their own local councils for ethnic minorities and integration.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

In addition to its extensive administrative duties, the Secretariat of the National Council for Ethnic Minorities and Integration is responsible for maintaining operational links and providing methodological assistance to the provincial and local councils for cooperation on ethnic and integration issues.

2. Agency for the Disabled

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

Agency for the Disabled (Bulgarian abbreviation: AHU)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

The Agency maintains the register of suppliers of medical aids and devices and the register of specialised companies that are owned by and work for the disabled; it handles complaints about unlawful treatment because of a disability; and manages projects for various programmes financed by the Agency.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

Applications are registered in the "Dokman" automated information system, after which the executive director forwards them to the head of the Agency’s office and to its directors, who allocate them to the appropriate case-handlers.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

The application is processed or a reply is sent.

3. State Agency for Child Protection

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

State Agency for Child Protection (Bulgarian abbreviation: DAZD)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

Children’s rights, laid down in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, are guaranteed in Bulgaria under the Child Protection Act, adopted in 2000, and the State Agency for Child Protection, created in 2001. Thus, Bulgaria is committed to providing suitable assistance to parents and guardians and creating an infrastructure of child-care services.

Child protection in Bulgaria is the responsibility of:

  • the State Agency for Child Protection;
  • the Social Services Agency (through its local branch offices, also known as ‘social services directorates’);
  • the Ministers for: Labour and Social Policy; the Interior; Education, Youth and Science; Justice; Foreign Affairs; Culture; Health; and the local mayors.
  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

The Child Protection Act affords special protection to children at risk. Every child has a right to be protected from violence, such as being coerced to engage in activities harmful to its health or physical, mental, moral or educational development; being exposed to child-rearing methods harmful to its sense of dignity; or to physical, mental or other forms of violence and coercion contrary to its best interests; being used for begging, prostitution, the spreading of pornography, collecting unlawful income or being exposed to sexual abuse.

Bulgaria has the following child-protection measures in place:

  • within the family environment: advice, assistance, legal aid, psychological counselling and social services. These measures are taken by the local branch offices of the Social Services Agency at the request of the child’s parents, guardians, care-givers or the child itself, or at the Social Services Agency’s own initiative. Services are supplied by the Social Services Agency or other providers;
  • outside the family environment: placement of the child in a family of relatives or close friends or in a foster family, social services provided at the child’s residence or at a specialised institution. Measures of this kind are ordered by the court. The Social Services Agency arranges for temporary lodging until the court has handed down its order;
  • only when all attempts to place the child in a family environment have failed is it placed in a specialised institution.
  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

The State Agency for Child Protection enforces children’s rights by:

  • inspecting public and private schools, nursery schools and child-care centres or their service departments; hospitals, clinics, Social Services branch offices, social service providers for children and non-profit organisations active in the field of child protection;
  • supervising centres offering specialised care for children;
  • enforcing minimum standards in social services.

The Agency can issue binding instructions to remedy infringements, and the offending party must let the Agency know that it has complied, on pain of a fine. Such instructions are subject to appeal before the courts within 14 days.

4. State Agency for Refugees

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

State Agency for Refugees (Bulgarian abbreviation: DAB)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

Applications for asylum and family reunification are examined in accordance with the Asylum and Refugee Act (Bulgarian abbreviation: ZUB). All decisions about asylum and family reunification are subject to appeal under this act. All other applications are governed by the Agency’s internal rules of procedure for granting protection.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

The main component of Bulgarian refugee law is the Asylum and Refugee Act. Other relevant provisions can be found in the Code of Administrative Procedure and the Foreign Nationals in Bulgaria Act (Bulgarian abbreviation: ZChRB).

There are four types of special protection:

  • asylum: this is granted by the President of Bulgaria to foreign nationals who have been persecuted because of their convictions or actions in support of internationally recognised rights and freedoms;
  • refugee status
  • humanitarian status (which is equivalent to the subsidiary protection described in Article 15 of the Qualification Directive – 2004/83/EC);
  • temporary protection: granted under certain conditions in times of a massive refugee influx;

The Agency is responsible for examining asylum claims. Its chairperson is the only official who can grant refugee or humanitarian status in Bulgaria.

Currently all applications for refugee status are processed at the refugee centres of Sofia and the village of Banya, near Nova Zagora.

Asylum seekers must appear in person at the Agency. Applications made at the border or with any other authority are forwarded to the Agency. Asylum seekers are registered on the day their application is lodged with the Agency.

The Agency must give asylum seekers information about the procedure, their rights and duties, and the organisations providing legal and social assistance. This information must be presented in a language they can understand and will be read to them by an interpreter right before their application is registered. They must complete a form, in which they note only their biological traits. The application is then handled in accordance with the Dublin procedure. The asylum seeker's fingerprints are taken for entry into the Eurodac system, and a number of standard questions are asked about their journey.

If Bulgaria is responsible for processing, the application handled under the fast-track procedure by the service that screened the applicant. This service may refuse asylum if the case does not meet the criteria set out in the Asylum and Refugee Act, it may to close the case, or it may forward the file for further processing under the standard procedure. If no decision is taken within three days, the application will automatically be dealt with under the standard procedure.

The decision of the screening service must be approved by the competent officials. Where necessary, the file may be returned for further investigation. Once the decision has been approved, it is officially drawn up in writing, approved by the methodology department, signed by a certain number of officials and submitted to the Agency’s chairperson for signing.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

Granting of refugee status, humanitarian status or rejection of the asylum application.

5. Permanent Commission for Human Rights and Police Ethics

  • Contact point
    Ministry of the Interior
    ul. 6-ti Septemvri 29
    Sofia 1000, Bulgaria
    Tel.: + 359 2 982 50 00 – (switchboard)
    Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.mvr.bg/
  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

Permanent Commission for Human Rights and Police Ethics (Bulgarian abbreviation: PKPChPE)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

This Commission serves as a bridge between the Ministry of the Interior and civil society organisations, and as such plays an important role. It has branches at the Ministry’s provincial offices. Its task is to examine complaints about human rights abuses.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

The Commission aims to cooperate actively with civil society organisations, encourage positive police practices and harmonise the rules resulting from Bulgaria’s membership of the EU. Its annual work plan includes the following activities:

  • studying the implementation of relevant legislation and proposing improvements;
  • encouraging ethical conduct and respect for human rights in everyday police work;
  • offering human rights training to police officials.
  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.
  • the rights of suspects in police custody are observed;
  • the code of ethics is complied with;
  • checks are carried out to ensure that the law and the Ministry’s rules and regulations are observed, including those concerning police ethics and human rights.

6. Human Rights, Religion and Petitions Committee of the National Assembly

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

Human Rights, Religion and Petitions Committee of the National Assembly (Bulgarian abbreviation: KPChVZhPG)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

This parliamentary committee has a legislative task in the fields of human rights and religious freedoms. In addition it accepts petitions from members of the public and civil society organisations.

The subject matter is very diverse and covers all aspects of society not dealt with by the courts. The largest number of petitions concern social problems, followed by the judicial system, consumer rights, the police, planning decisions, illegal construction, reinstatement of private land ownership, education, health care, local government, religious rights, national government, ethnic discrimination, etc.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

The Committee is the Bulgarian Parliament’s direct link to the country’s citizens. Its role is strictly defined. Its rules of procedure lay down in detail how petitions are to be registered, transmitted and archived and how each step in this process is to be recorded. Each document is given a reference number, recorded in a special register and assigned to a case-handler, who examines it and sends a reply or, where appropriate, forwards the file to the proper authority in due time. The Committee is particularly attentive to local and national authorities failing to meet their statutory response deadlines laid down in the Code of Administrative Procedure. The Committee’s case handlers also give advice by telephone about procedural rights, and explain in what cases they can provide help.

Anonymous petitions are not examined.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

Citizens get advice about and help in defending the civil rights guaranteed by the constitution.

7. Directorate-General for criminal sentence enforcement of the Ministry of Justice

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

Directorate-General for criminal sentence enforcement of the Ministry of Justice (Bulgarian abbreviation GDIN)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

Complaints from those in custody mainly concern disciplinary measures, transfer to other facilities, conditions of custody, living conditions, medical care and conduct of the facility’s staff.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

Disciplinary measures imposed under Article 101 of the Enforcement of Criminal Sentences and Custody Act (Bulgarian abbreviation: ZINZS) are subject to appeal within seven days following notification before the Director-General of criminal sentence enforcement if issued by the director of the prison or other custodial facility, or before the Minister for Justice if issued by the Director-General. Solitary confinement can be appealed before the District Court for the facility within three days from notification. Solitary confinement longer than two months without the right to participate in group activities (Article 120 of the Act) must be imposed by the Director-General of criminal sentence enforcement and can be appealed before the relevant Provincial Court within 3 days following notification.

Transfers are ordered by the Director-General for criminal sentence enforcement and are subject to appeal before the Minister for Justice within 14 days following their notification.

Decisions to impose stricter conditions of confinement are issued by the Commission for Criminal Sentence Enforcement (Article 74(1) of the Act) and can be appealed before the Provincial Court for the facility within 14 days following notification.

On the basis of Article 1(1) of the Liability for Harm Inflicted by the State and Municipalities (Bulgarian abbreviation: ZODOV), complaints about living conditions, medical care and the conduct of a facility’s staff are heard by the administrative courts in accordance with the Code of Administrative Procedure. Decisions can be appealed once. Claims under Article 71(1) of the Protection against Discrimination Act are heard by the district courts or the Discrimination Commission. This procedure is governed by the Code of Civil Procedure, and decisions can be appealed twice. The Commission’s decisions are subject to appeal before the Supreme Administrative Court in accordance with the Code of Administrative Procedure.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

Once they have taken effect, administrative decisions and court rulings are binding and are implemented by the Directorate-General and its regional services.

8. National Commission for Human Trafficking

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

National Commission for Human Trafficking of the Ministerial Council (Bulgarian abbreviation: NKBTH)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

Tip-offs about human trafficking can be given to the Commission’s secretariat by the victims themselves or by someone acting on their behalf. The Commission also handles complaints from members of the public about its administrative functioning. The time-limits for handling such complaints are laid down by law.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

The Commission forwards tip-offs to the relevant government service for follow-up, investigation and/or clarification. Victims are guaranteed anonymity (Article 20 of the Human Trafficking Act, Bulgarian abbreviation: ZBTH). If the victim is a minor, the Commission must at once alert the State Agency for Child Protection, which takes action as required under the Child Protection Act.

Bulgarian and international non-governmental organisations active in the field of human trafficking can attend meetings of the Commission by submitting a written request and providing certain supporting documents (Article 4(4) of the Human Trafficking Act and Article 12 of the Commission’s Internal Regulations).

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

If the documents submitted are incomplete or contain errors, the Commission may ask to complete or correct them within a certain deadline. Within 30 days from the date of the complaint the Commission gives its decision, which is subject to appeal before the Supreme Administrative Court.

9. Central Juvenile Delinquency Commission

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

Central Juvenile Delinquency Commission of the Ministerial Council (Bulgarian abbreviation: TsKBPPMN)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

Tasks of the Commission:

  • coordinate the work of government services and non-governmental organisations active in the field of juvenile delinquency;
  • manage and oversee the work of the local juvenile delinquency commissions throughout the country;
  • analyse and aggregate statistical data, study trends and make forecasts;
  • participate in drafting legislation concerning the problems faced by minors;
  • raise public awareness of problematic adolescent behaviour;
  • inform the public about situations likely to provoke delinquent behaviour, the role parents can play, the state of juvenile delinquency in the country and the direction in which it is evolving.
  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

The local juvenile delinquency commissions are responsible for organising, managing and supervising efforts at the municipal level to prevent and reduce juvenile anti-social behaviour. They also have powers to examine cases of juvenile delinquency. The Criminal Code has a chapter entitled “Special provisions for minors”, which corresponds to Article 40 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and to Rule 11 of the Beijing Rules. According to this chapter, precedence is given to educational measures, which are laid down in Article 13 of the Juvenile Delinquency Act (Bulgarian abbreviation: ZBPPMN). Such measures are taken outside of the criminal justice system and serve a purely educational and social function. They include counselling to address behavioural problems, encouragement of closer parental involvement, and support by professional educators.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

Appropriate measures are taken after the causes of problem behaviour have been analysed. Where neglect is involved, measures may also be taken in respect of the parents.

10. National Bureau for Legal Assistance

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

National Bureau for Legal Assistance (Bulgarian abbreviation: NBPP)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

Requests for legal assistance must be submitted to the Bureau’s Chairperson.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

Eligible for legal assistance are:

  • those who are eligible for social benefits;
  • those placed in a specialised social institution, or
  • foster families and relatives or close friends put in charge of a child in accordance with the Child Protection Act.

The applicant must submit one of the following:

  • a statement from the director of the local Social Services Agency branch (also known as the social services directorate) certifying that the applicant was, at the time of the application, receiving monthly social benefits in accordance with Article 9 of the Implementing Provisions for the Social Assistance Act (Bulgarian abbreviation: PPZSP);

or

  • an original statement from the director of the local Social Services Agency branch certifying that the applicant qualifies for monthly social benefits.

The applicant must also submit a statement detailing his/her family’s financial resources.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

The Bureau’s chairperson either grants legal assistance or refuses it. His/her decision is subject to appeal before the Sofia City Administrative Court in accordance with the Code of Administrative Procedure.

11. National Council for Crime Victim Support and Compensation

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

National Council for Crime Victim Support and Compensation (Bulgarian abbreviation: NSPKPP)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

The Council handles applications for the financial compensation provided for by the Crime Victim Support and Compensation Act (Bulgarian abbreviation: ZPFKPP). To qualify for compensation, the victim must have sustained a financial loss as a result of acts of terrorism; murder; a premeditated criminal offence resulting in serious physical injury; rape or sexual assault seriously damaging the victim’s health; human trafficking; criminal offences committed on behalf of an organised crime ring; and other serious premeditated criminal offences resulting in death or serious physical injury (Article 3(3) of the Act). The offence must have been committed after 30 June 2005. The law provides for compensation of the following losses resulting directly from a criminal offence:

  1. medical costs other than those reimbursed by the National Health Insurance Fund;
  2. lost earnings;
  3. legal costs;
  4. lost means of subsistence;
  5. funeral costs;
  6. other material damages.

Supporting documents must be provided.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

Victims of these criminal offences can submit claims for financial compensation to the governor of their province or to the Council within two months following conviction of the perpetrator (Article 12 of the Act). The Council must examine the claim within three months following receipt.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

The Council meets at least once every three months to decide about compensation claims. Its decisions are taken by a simple majority of those present, must give the grounds for acceptance or refusal and are without appeal.

Other

1. Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights

Contact point

Ul. Gurko 49A, 3rd floor
Sofia 1000, Bulgaria
Tel.: + 359 2 980 39 67
Tel./fax: + 359 2 986 66 23
Email: Link opens in new windowhrlawyer@blhr.org
Website: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.blhr.org/

 

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights (Bulgarian abbreviation: BAPCh)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights provide free legal counsel in human rights cases before national and international courts, and defend the right to a fair trial, to freedom and safety, to life, to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and association, to freedom to own property, to freedom from arbitrary interference with one’s privacy, family, home or correspondence, to freedom of movement, to and freedom from discrimination.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

Before a case is accepted, an expert panel made up of highly experienced lawyers checks whether it is in line with the organisation’s statutory objectives.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

The law may be changed, a new legal precedent may be set, or administrative practices may be changed to comply with basic human rights standards, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights.

2. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (Bulgarian abbreviation: BHK)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee helps victims of human rights abuses by offering legal counsel and defending their cases before national and international courts.

The Committee’s strategic priorities are:

  • discrimination on the basis of gender, handicap, race or ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, political views, religious beliefs and age. Key priorities are women’s’ rights, and in particular the rights of Roma women, and Roma education issues;
  • the education of children with disabilities;
  • the legal status of the mentally disabled (people living with mental disorders and impairments);
  • institutionalisation of children and adults with mental disabilities in prisons and other custodial facilities;
  • pressure on certain ethnic and religious minorities to assimilate because they are considered undesirable;
  • unequal legal treatment of foreign nationals, discrimination and violence against them;
  • children and the courts (lack of scrutiny of judicial decisions and processes affecting the rights of children);
  • freedom of association and peaceful assembly;
  • access to health care;
  • exceptionally we provide assistance in serious cases of police violence; where the right to legal defence has been denied; in cases of excessive court delays; where the freedom of expression has been denied; or where economic, social or cultural rights have been violated as a result of discrimination on one of the grounds mentioned earlier.
  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

Requests for assistance must be addressed to the Committee by post or e-mail. They must present a concise summary of the facts and may be accompanied by copies of the most essential supporting documents. Only copies of documents are accepted, and requesters are asked to indicate whether they wish these copies to be returned to them. If the Committee fails to reply within one month, this is to be regarded as tacit refusal. Decisions not to provide a reasoned refusal are taken after careful analysis of the request and the evidence submitted.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

The Committee is particularly concerned about the rights of women, ethnic and religious minorities, children and the mentally, intellectually or emotionally impaired; conditions in prisons and other custodial facilities; protection against discrimination, torture and abuse; the rights of refugees and migrants; freedom of expression; access to information; and problems with the administration of criminal justice.

3. Association for the Integration of Refugees and Migrants

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

Association for the Integration of Refugees and Migrants (Bulgarian abbreviation: AIBM)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

The Association:

  • analyses national legislation and makes recommendations to improve the legal protection afforded to refugees and migrants in Bulgaria;
  • produces information and reference materials about refugees’ and migrants’ rights and obligations;
  • provides training to public officials and staff of non-governmental organisations about refugees’ and migrants’ rights and the specifics of working with them;
  • raises public awareness about the problems faced by refugees and migrants;
  • cooperates with government services, refugee and migrant organisations and other non-governmental organisations to improve access to education, employment, health care, etc.
  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;
  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.
  • development of integration models and components of the national integration strategy for refugees and migrants;
  • fundraising activities for projects and programmes aimed at improving the adaptation and integration of refugees and migrants;
  • information campaigns to counter discriminatory, racist and xenophobic attitudes and behaviour towards refugees and migrants.

4. Animus Association

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

Animus Association

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

Requests for psychological and social counselling.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

Telephone hotline, individual counselling, psychological and social services, referrals to legal services provided by partner organisations.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

Learning to deal with violence and overcome traumatic experiences.

5. Nadya Centre

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

Nadya Centre

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

The Nadya Centre provides psychological and social assistance to people in difficulty. It has no particular structure to handle requests or complaints. People are free to turn to the Nadya Centre for help in finding answers to the issues that trouble them. The Nadya Centre offers personal counselling sessions and telephone counselling.

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

The Nadya Centre helps victims of violence and crime. It operates a telephone helpline and offers psychological, medical, social, and legal support. Clients may be referred to government institutions or health and social services. The Nadya Centre applies well-established international practices in victim support and strives to build up good working relations with local government, the police, medical and social services and the media.

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

The Nadya Centre has a cooperation agreement with the Ministry of the Interior, under which it has conducted many joint training sessions with partner organisations on domestic violence, rape and sexual offences against children, human trafficking and protection standards for victims of human trafficking.

The Nadya Centre is a reliable partner to the National Human Trafficking Commission. It works directly with victims to help them re-integrate in their families and society. It also successfully works with the courts by offering training to magistrates at the National Justice Institute about the medical and social aspects of human trafficking, the legal framework in place to protect the victims and the criteria used to refer victims to other services.

During recent years the Nadya Centre has also offered help to several victims of attempted murder and rape. Since the Crime Victim Support and Compensation Act has entered into force (Bulgarian abbreviation: ZPFKPP), the number of such cases has increased. Specialist assistance and counselling is one of the many things the Nadya Centre has to offer. Its centres are located in Sofia and in other parts of the country.

6. Legal Clinic for Refugees and Immigrants

  • Name of unit/institutional body accepting requests/complaints/claims arising from violations of rights (if applicable);

Legal Clinic for Refugees and Immigrants (Bulgarian abbreviation: PKBI)

  • Short description of applications/complaints/claims processed by the institution;

Administrative decisions taken by virtue of the Asylum and Refugee Act (Bulgarian abbreviation: ZUB) and the Foreign Nationals in Bulgaria Act (ZChRB).

  • Short description of procedure/proceedings in accordance with which the applications/complaints/claims are processed;

Submitting a complaint; court hearing; observance of the judgement

  • Short description of the possible results of the procedure/proceedings.

Approval or refusal of complaint.


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Last update: 13/08/2012