[19 June 1998]
* The initial report submitted by the Government of
Bulgaria is contained in document CAT/C/5/Add.28; for its consideration
by the Committee, see documents CAT/C/SR.97, 98 and 99 and Official
Records of the General Assembly, Forty-seventh Session, Supplement
No. 44 (A/47/44), paras. 215-243.
1. The initial
report of the Republic of Bulgaria was considered by the Committee
against Torture on 18 and 19 November 1991. Having assessed positively
the report and the complementary oral explanations by the Bulgarian
representative, the Committee made some remarks and suggestions which
were taken into account in the preparation of the second periodic
2. At the
outset, it should be noted that, in the years since 1992, new favourable
legislative and operative conditions, in terms both of international
and domestic law, have been created with regard to the application
of the Convention against Torture. Thus, the Republic of Bulgaria
withdrew in June 1992 its reservations as to article 30 (1) of the
Convention. In May 1993 it further withdrew its reservations as to
articles 21 and 22 concerning recognition of the relevant terms of
reference of the Committee. Of particular importance to that end was
the ratification in September 1994 and the incorporation in the Bulgarian
legislation of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture
and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
3. In accordance
with article 7 of the European Convention, the Republic of Bulgaria
was visited, from 26 March to 7 April 1995, by a delegation of the
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). The delegation
reviewed units of the National Police and of the National Investigative
Service, detention facilities and mental institutions. Consultations
were held with State agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
In a detailed report of 15 September 1995, the CPT described instances
of torture established by the delegation during the visit. These cases
related mainly to ill-treatment by the police of persons suspected
of criminal activities and on rare occasions, by the prison administration
with regard to physical and mental torture of detainees. The report
suggests various general and specific measures aimed at preventing
torture in detention facilities. The Bulgarian Government presented
two official replies to the CPT report. The first one dealt with the
initial actions and the other one with the additional measures to
address the CPT recommendations, comments and requests for information.
The CPT stressed the constructive cooperation with the Bulgarian authorities.
The latter addressed with due attention and concern the findings,
conclusions and recommendations made by the delegation. The follow-up,
in the form of prompt and efficient measures, proves the resolute
determination of the authorities to prevent all forms of degrading
and inhuman treatment of citizens by officials.
ON TEXTS IN THE FIRST PART OF THE CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE, ACCORDING
TO THE QUESTIONS, REMARKS AND REQUESTS OF THE COMMITTEE
4. In the
Republic of Bulgaria, since 1992, a number of new normative acts have
been adopted while the existing ones have been amended and supplemented.
Thus, greater legal guarantees were provided for protection of the
rights of citizens and, in particular, for attainment of the objectives
of the Convention. It is worth mentioning the Judiciary Act of 1994,
the Ministry of the Interior Act of 1997 and Ordinance No. 12 (1993)
of the Minister of Justice on the Situation of Persons Held in Detention
Facilities. It should be emphasized that amendments made to the penal
legislation in force are in line with the recommendations of the Committee.
5. Life imprisonment
was introduced in the Penal Code whose enforcement is regulated by
the Punishment Enforcement Act. The idea is that this punishment supersedes
the death penalty, which is to be eliminated. The presence of both
at the moment is justified as a legal and political prerequisite for
overcoming, more flexibly and smoothly, the prevailing public attitude
against abolition of capital punishment. As a result of the moratorium
imposed on executions in 1990, no death sentence has been enforced
for the last seven years. Capital punishment is not envisaged as a
part of the penal system in either of the existing drafts of a new
Penal Code. In this sense, the question is not whether capital punishment
is to be abolished in Bulgaria, but when.
6. As for
the regime of those sentenced to death and life imprisonment, there
are regulations for protective penitentiary treatment under conditions
of strict isolation. More favourable living and working conditions
are envisaged for them, in particular: unrestricted correspondence;
opportunity to receive two food parcels and 30 packs of cigarettes
per month; monthly visits by relatives; money transfers for meeting
personal needs; daily one-hour stays in the open air; opportunity
to receive newspapers, books and magazines in Bulgarian and foreign
languages; opportunity to meet media representatives, etc.
7. The crime
of extortion (known also by the popular name of "racketeering") includes
threats and coercion and infliction of property damages on the victim.
This crime presupposes higher liability in cases when the coercive
act is committed by an official or in connection with the discharge
of his/her official duties.
8. The initial
report did not make mention of the existence of a crime under the
Penal Code (art. 127 (3)) which relates to the Convention. It concerns
leading a person to committing suicide through cruel treatment or
systematic abasement of his dignity. An objective prerequisite for
liability is the circumstance that the victim finds himself/herself
in material or other dependence upon the perpetrator (at work, within
the family, by virtue of a contract, etc.). The perpetrator (including
an official) committing continuous physical and or mental harassment
on the dependent person should be aware and presume that the latter
might kill himself/herself. The liability appears at the moment when
the person concerned commits suicide or attempts to do so. The punishment
is deprivation of liberty from two to eight years. The application
of the penalty is relatively limited due to the specifics of the circumstances
and difficulty proving premeditation.
9. In 1992/93
a proposal was put forward by members of Parliament in the then Legislative
Commission of the National Assembly to criminalize acts of "torture",
as formulated in article 1, paragraph 1, of the Convention. That proposal
was not introduced formally at a plenary session. The presumption
probably was that the absence of such a crime was not a substantial
lacuna in the Bulgarian criminal law as there are texts providing
for the punishment of torture in the sense of the Convention (arts.
36 (2), 92 (5), 116 (1) and (6), 127 (3), 131 (1) and (5), 142 (2)
and (3), 187, 285, 287, 410-412, 416-418). There is a tendency to
extend the number and scope of the norms regarding torture and other
forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Nevertheless, in order
to attain a comprehensive and complete legal regulation of these specific
offences, and in keeping with the commitment ensuing from the Convention,
the efforts to formulate the crime of "torture" will continue so that
it can be included in the Penal Code in the near future.
from penal laws, the Bulgarian legislation, as a whole, provides for
a large variety of measures to prevent torture. The main activities
of the police and the security, investigation, prosecution and other
law enforcement bodies, as well as mental institutions, are regulated
by laws. Those are further specified by various (in terms of character,
aims and significance) by-laws. In the meantime, the legislation is
constantly being improved in the process of reform aimed at strengthening
democracy and civil society, in accordance with article 2 (1) of the
Convention. In this sense, articles 118 and 119 of the Judiciary Act
are particularly eloquent. Article 118 regulates the powers of the
Prosecutor's Office arising from the Constitution of the Republic
of Bulgaria. Article 119 stipulates the kinds of actions and measures
to be taken by the Prosecutor in discharge of his functions. It contains
a detailed description of the Prosecutor's supervision over the legality
of all activities at detention facilities.
11. As for
the Bulgarian court, practice shows that it has become more sensitive,
precise and thorough in its approach to persons who have committed
12. On the
other hand, the Constitutional Court, since its establishment, has
never been seized and has not pronounced itself on any matters bearing
upon the Convention.
13. The adequacy
of the applied legislative and administrative measures was assessed
in the report of 15 September 1995, mentioned in the Introduction
above, made by a delegation of the European Committee for the Prevention
of Torture. That report was prepared on the basis of thorough inspection
of the police and investigation structures, as well as of detention
facilities and mental institutions. As a result of the actions of
the relevant Bulgarian authorities in implementation of the Committee's
recommendations, prevention of torture in practice is becoming much
more efficient. All individuals should be unconditionally protected
from torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
or punishment. For obvious reasons, children and young people are
most in need of such protection. In this context, on the basis of
the modified national legislation and in view of the Convention on
the Rights of the Child, to which Bulgaria is a party, substantial
amendments and supplements were adopted at the end of 1996 to the
Combating Antisocial Behaviour by Minors and Adolescents Act.
Act introduced some changes in the conditions, periods and procedures
of placing minors and adolescents in special homes, boarding schools
and facilities for homeless children. Worth mentioning are the new
provisions concerning placement in a Corrective Boarding School. The
decision on placement for a period of up to three years can be made
by a court or a prosecutor under article 61 and article 64 of the
Penal Code, as well as by a local Commission on Combating Antisocial
Behaviour by Minors and Adolescents. In the latter case special proceedings
are instituted with the mandatory participation of a parent, a teacher
and a public defender. Any placement decided on by the local commission
is subject to court supervision as children are actually separated
from their parents and families against their will.
to that, new regulations on the work of the Corrective Boarding Schools
and of the Pedagogical Boarding Schools (corrective educational institutions
of an open type) are to enter into force after their approval. They
contain special texts concerning the prohibition of means and methods
degrading human dignity. They are in accordance with the spirit of
the Convention and ensue from the Education Act (1991) and the Regulations
for its implementation (1992) which stipulate that teachers have no
right to degrade their pupils' dignity or to apply any form of physical
or mental coercion on them. And finally, it should be noted that the
development of society brings up a number of new problems, along with
the pending ones, bearing upon the raising and bringing up of children
and their social protection. In this context, the elaboration of new
legislation is under consideration (Law on Protection of the Child,
Law on Courts for Minors and Adolescents, etc.) in which, along with
the comprehensive regulation of a great number of cases, an accent
will be put on mechanisms and guarantees for preventing torture, in
accordance with the Convention).
attention will be accorded to children who have nobody to look after
them and who are reared in various institutions, in order to protect
them from any form of violence and inhuman treatment in the sense
of the Convention. This is also provided for under article 47 (4)
of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria.
17. It should
be noted that, in the period under review, there have been no attempts
by any State institution to justify torture based on extraordinary
circumstances - internal instability or any other emergency (art.
2 (2) of the Convention).
18. In the
past years there have not been any cases of justifying torture on
the grounds of an order of a superior official or State body (art.
2 (3) of the Convention).
19. The Bulgarian
penal legislation does not contain any explicit prohibition on expelling,
returning or extraditing a person to another State where there are
substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being
subjected to torture under article 3 (1) of the Convention. The existing
situation has to do with the problem of the relationship between domestic
and international law as provided in article 5 (4) of the Constitution.
International instruments ratified according to the constitutional
procedure, promulgated and effective in the Republic of Bulgaria are
a part of the domestic law of the country. They supersede any domestic
legislation stipulating otherwise. By virtue of this provision, the
legislation does not require that article 3 of the Convention be reproduced
in a law as it has an immediate direct effect and can be applied by
the courts. Even if there were domestic provisions stipulating otherwise,
article 3 would still be effective under article 4 (4) of the Constitution.
in the period under review Bulgaria acceded to the European Convention
for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment, as well as to the European Convention for the Protection
of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The mechanisms for protection
of persons from torture provided for in these two conventions are
in force for Bulgaria.
21. In this
context, it should be pointed out that in the period under review,
no person was expelled, returned or extradited from the Republic of
Bulgaria to a State where he would have been in danger of being subjected
to torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
of the newly adopted numerous and substantial amendments and supplements
to the Penal Code and the Penal Procedure Code have a direct bearing
on the issues treated in the Convention. Traditionally, the Bulgarian
legislator has always tried to ensure that the Penal Code covers all
encroachments on the person relating to torture or other forms of
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and envisage an
adequate grave liability of perpetrators.
offences connected with torture are committed by officials who, on
the basis of their incompetence or emotional and psychological instability,
break the laws, ignore their duties or misuse their powers. Therefore
greater attention should be paid to the selection, training and supervision
of the actions of those officials whose work might put them in a position
to commit torture or to use other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment or punishment.
24. The principles
of the Bulgarian Penal Code (arts. 3-8) as well as the procedural
provisions (arts. 186, 202, 203 and 222 of the Penal Procedure Code)
bearing on the obligation of the Republic of Bulgaria to take the
necessary measures and to establish its jurisdiction over torture-related
offences were outlined in the first report. In the period under review,
no changes were introduced in the legal provisions. However, in terms
of procedure, a possibility of extending the period of preliminary
investigation was introduced. If the preliminary investigation is
not completed within two months, the District Prosecutor can extend
the period to six months and, in exceptional cases, the Prosecutor
General could extend it to up to nine months (art. 222 (3) of the
Penal Procedure Code).
25. As the
existing norms have proved their efficiency and durability, there
have been no practical difficulties with regard to the implementation
of articles 3-8 of the Penal Code (in accordance with art. 5 of the
Articles 6, 7, 8 and 9
regard to implementing its obligations ensuing from articles 6, 7,
8 and 9 of the Convention, the Republic of Bulgaria is a party to
the following multilateral conventions.
on Extradition (in effect for Bulgaria since 15 September 1994);
Convention on the
Transfer of Sentenced Persons (in effect for Bulgaria since 15
on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (in effect for Bulgaria
since 15 September 1994);
for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment (in effect for Bulgaria since 1 September 1994).
at different times and mainly prior to its accession to the Convention,
the Republic of Bulgaria concluded a number of bilateral agreements.
Twenty-three of them deal exclusively with legal assistance or include
criminal proceedings as well. Half of the States parties to these
agreements have also signed and ratified the Convention. A transfer
agreement was signed with Italy and an agreement on transfer of convicted
persons with Turkey.
28. The bilateral
agreements signed by Bulgaria on extradition and legal assistance
in criminal proceedings do not contain special clauses on obligations
to render legal assistance or to refuse to render legal assistance
with regard to offences representing or containing forms of torture.
Nevertheless, there are no provisions in the domestic law or in the
bilateral and multilateral agreements which would be in contradiction
with the above-cited texts of the Convention. Offences related to
torture are grave and premeditated and that, in principle, implies
extradition of the person concerned in the absence of provisions to
rule it out.
29. In connection
with the implementation of obligations ensuing from the Convention,
in the last few years the Bulgarian authorities have been paying serious
attention to education and training of officials who, due to the nature
of their functions, might be prone to violate human rights and, in
particular, commit torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment.
relating to respect for human dignity and rights are a priority in
the training of police officers. Qualified instructors, both from
within and outside the police structures, have been engaged. Different
beginners or advanced courses dealing with basic law disciplines (constitutional
law, international law, criminal procedure, administrative law and
procedure, criminology, etc.) treat different aspects of human rights
protection. The subject "police psychology" puts the accent on the
psychology of communication in police work. It is aimed at acquiring
qualifications and skills to address conflicts without resorting to
physical force and aids. Of particular importance are the joint training
projects with international foundations, associations, etc., as well
as police authorities of other countries. The understanding now is
that all police officers and sergeants should pass a psychological
test and practical measures are being taken to that end.
31. In connection
with the training of the staff of mental institutions, periodic courses
for psychiatric nurses have been organized for the last few years
at the National Centre for Complex Human Studies of the Ministry of
Health with the assistance of the Neuro-Science and Behaviour Foundation.
The West Lambeth Community Care National Health Service Trust of Great
Britain expressed its interest in cooperation in that sphere and guidelines
for joint activities were mapped out by its representatives and the
Ministry of Health. In addition, a manual of psychiatric nursing,
a translation of Susan Ritter's book Manual of Clinical Psychiatric
Nursing was published with the financial support of the Geneva
Initiative on Psychiatry, the International Foundation for Abolition
and Prevention of Political Abuse of Psychiatry. The Manual
was approved by the Ministry of Education as a training aid for psychiatric
nurses and distributed in all psychiatric institutions.
32. The Bulgarian
authorities believe that practical issues relating to detention are
of special importance, such as the methods of interrogation of arrested,
suspected or charged persons, the use of video and audio recording,
registration of detained persons in daily record books, etc. A detailed
Instruction on Application of the Penal Procedure Code has been worked
out to that end. This Instruction is a joint action of the Prosecutor
General's Office, the National Investigative Service and the National
Police Directorate; it further regulates the rights and obligations
of each institution, as well as the powers of all institutions in
their concerted work in search of solutions to these issues.
33. The training
of officers serving at prison establishments is effected by special
courses for beginners and periodic retraining. Legal, psychological
and pedagogical subjects dominate the study programmes of these courses.
The skills of interpersonal communication and building up positive
relations with persons who have been deprived of their liberty are
the main goals of these programmes. This will not only diminish the
risk of ill-treatment but will enhance control and security.
general and specific measures for ensuring dissemination of information
on the work standards of enforcement authorities, medical staff and
officers in arresting, interrogating and treating a detainee or a
convicted person can also be mentioned:
into Bulgarian of a collection of international instruments on human
rights containing the Convention and eight other acts on human rights
in the administration of justice and the protection of persons subject
to detention or imprisonment;
laws and by-laws into line with the Convention;
instructions to the staff on duty;
the public, mainly through the media, by raising topics and specific
cases with a view to fostering public intolerance of torture;
prison and other special libraries with a sufficient number of copies
of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture, the explanatory
report, the Additional Protocls to the Convention and expert comments.
One of the obligations of social workers is to explain its provisions
to persons deprived of liberty.
the provisions of the Convention to the knowledge of more people (popularizing
the Convention in the broadest sense) is an additional way of preventing
torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
reviews of the rules, instructions, methods and practices in interrogation,
detention and treatment of suspected, accused and convicted persons
are a standing activity of the Bulgarian authorities. Pursuant to
the Ministry of the Interior Act, police authorities can, under certain
conditions, detain a person for up to 24 hours, conduct a personal
search, inspect personal belongings, premises and vehicles, use subsidiary
physical force, auxiliary aids and, finally, arms, as the last resort.
Any interrogation of an accused or suspected person, a witness or
an expert is to be conducted in accordance with the procedure established
by the Penal Procedure Code guaranteeing voluntary cooperation and
authenticity of explanations and testimony. No evidence is accepted
which has not been acquired or prepared in compliance with the provisions
and procedures envisaged in the Penal Procedure Code.
37. In 1993
the Minister of Justice issued Ordinance No. 12 on the Situation of
Persons Held in Detention Facilities. The provisions therein were
introduced in line with the general tendency of democratization of
legislation and full protection of human rights.
38. It should
be noted that, for the time being, it is not planned to set up an
independent body to monitor whether the conditions of detention, arrest
or deprivation from liberty in general are in accordance with the
provisions of the Convention. Neither is it planned to introduce a
system of protection, including an independent inquiry on the basis
of information about torture cases. These functions are successfully
carried out by activists of national and international non-governmental
human rights organizations. In general, their activities are multifaceted
and intensive while their influence on institutions (including on
the implementation of the Convention) is on the rise.
to the internal regulations of the National Investigative Service's
detention facilities, all detainees are entitled to medical care.
Physicians or medical auxiliaries are employed by all district investigative
services. They mandatorily examine each newly arrived detainee or
any other detainee if a complaint has been made. The results of the
first medical examination are put down in writing and kept in confidence.
In addition, in
when that is necessary, the patient is taken for an examination or
treatment by specialists in the respective district hospitals or in
the specialized hospital of the Ministry of the Interior in Sofia.
40. In recent
years, specific measures have been taken to improve health-care services
in prison establishments on the basis of the Enforcement of Punishments
Act, of the Regulations for its implementation and of other acts.
All new prisoners are subjected to a psychological test and sanitary
treatment, as well as to a thorough medical examination on the basis
of which they are accommodated and allocated work. Health-care cards
are made for all persons suffering from diagnosed diseases and subject
to observation. Such cards are also compulsory for healthy prisoners
who are to remain in prison for over one year. When a prisoner is
moved to another establishment his card is sent with him. The prison
directors and the medical personnel have been instructed to enhance
the control and improve the organization with regard to ensuring confidentiality
of medical data on prisoners. In order to improve the psychiatric
care of prisoners, five prisons have employed their own psychiatrists
while other prisons rely on psychiatrists of civil health-care institutions.
A multifunctional hospital has been built at the central prison in
Sofia. As for suicides in prison, there is no information pointing
to cases of suicides having been caused by torture. Studies show that
the average number of prison suicides is three to four annually. Reasons
may be different and not always easy to identify. Suicides are most
often caused by depression due to failed marriages or family problems,
protests of defendants, personal mishaps, etc. There are also cases
of prisoners who have committed suicide while on furlough.
41. The religious
support, or the so-called "healing of the soul", has become very popular
in prison establishments in the last few years. Priests went into
prisons, special rooms were equipped for that purpose, chapels were
built in prison yards and other necessary conditions were created
for religious rituals and services.
42. As far
as persons taken into custody by the police are concerned, there is
no normative act expressly providing for a medical examination or
doctor's access to the person in custody. In practice, whenever that
is necessary, police officers call a doctor or a team from the closest
hospital. The question of introducing a mandatory doctor's assessment
in such cases has not yet been put to discussion. Introduction of
regulations with regard to doctors' access to a person held in custody
by the police is under consideration now. The medical examinations
could also be done in private, analagous to the act of meeting a lawyer,
while the results of the examination, the complaints of the detainee
and the conclusions of the physician in writing could be made available
to the detainee and his lawyer.
43. The above-mentioned
measures, as well as the monitoring mechanisms at detention facilities,
including inspections by the European Committee for the Prevention
of Torture, represent a serious attempt to guarantee that torture
will not take place and will eventually be eliminated. Still further
legal guarantees to that end are provided by the drafts of a new Penal
Code, a new Penal Procedure Code and a new Law on Enforcement of Punishments.
of torture in the sense of the Convention have taken place in the
period 1992-1996. Nevertheless, article 287 of the Penal Code has
not been implemented for two reasons: first, its scope is relatively
limited with regard to the nature of the victim and the subjective
aspect; second, an act under article 287 of the Penal Code often causes
injury and departs from the norms of murder or bodily injury, and
the fact of torture is accepted by the court as an aggravating circumstance
in deciding on the punishment.
45. It should
be emphasized that the number of officially registered offences is
smaller than that of those really committed as there is latent crime.
The offence is committed discreetly, the victim is often dependent
on the official in question and is afraid to report the case. Therefore,
the data indicated below are not exhaustive.
to the information from the Administration of Detention Facilities,
in 1994 and 1995, a total of 69 complaints of physical ill-treatment
or moral harassment of prisoners by prison staff were lodged. A thorough
investigation of the complaints established that only three of them
were well grounded. As a result of the proceedings instituted, one
supervisor was turned over to the Prosecutor's Office for penal proceedings
and another three were subjected to disciplinary measures.
47. In the
period 1 January 1992-30 August 1995, there were 134 cases of continued
detention after the expiry of the sentence as follows: 1992 - 28
cases, 1993 - 31 cases, 1994 - 39 cases, and until 30 August 1995
-36 cases. The reasons were mostly, as follows: late announcement
of sentences; imposition of a punishment or correction of an imposed
punishment by a second instance; delayed cumulation of sentences due
to the prison administration. The period of imprisonment was exceeded
by several days to two months.
48. The statistics
show the following: in 1992 22 cases of overextended sentences were
caused by the court, 4 by the Prosecutor's Office and 2 by the prison
administration. In 1994 the respective figures were 20, 8 and 0.
49. In recent
years there were various cases of physical and psychological ill-treatment
of young soldiers by older soldiers and officers in the barracks.
Most often disciplinary punishments were imposed but the most flagrant
offences, which had led to bodily injury or death, were taken up by
50. As for
ill-treatment and cruelty, including torture, practised with regard
to detainees at police stations, the official statistics indicate
that in the period from the beginning of 1991 to May 1997 there were
46 offences committed by police officers of the police and the Ministry
of the Interior. In most cases physical force was used illegally by
sergeants and officers against suspects and, within the regular forces
of the Ministry of the Interior, against recruits. Four persons died
as a result of beatings. There was one homosexual assault and one
51. In this
context, 10 inquiries were held against 10 sergeants and 8 officers.
Two sentences were passed and five officers were deprived of liberty.
The other cases are still being processed. Disciplinary proceedings
were instituted in all cases. Five army officers and six army sergeants
were disciplined and dismissed, as were four officers and five sergeants
from the regular forces of the Ministry of the Interior. The media
widely publicized the death of Christo Christov who was cruelly beaten
by officers from the 7th Regional Police Office, Sofia, which constituted
a crime under article 116 (2) and (6) of the Penal Code. The court
found three lieutenants of the National Police guilty of murdering,
deliberately and cruelly, Mr. Christov and sentenced them to long
terms of imprisonment: between 18 and 20 years. Three more police
officers were sentenced to different terms of imprisonment for misuse
cases of torture were quickly and impartially investigated and finalized
by court proceedings. In prtactice, nobody participating in torture
was unjustifiably released from liability.
53. It cannot
be denied that there are problems in Bulgaria regarding protection
against torture. Various legislative, administrative, legal and organizational
measures are undertaken to overcome them. An important contribution
is made by the numerous Bulgarian and foreign non-governmental human
rights organizations. Their inquiries, findings and recommendations
are taken into consideration by the Bulgarian authorities in their
efforts to improve the situation.
45 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria expressly stipulates
the right of citizens to lodge complaints with the State authorities.
This right and the guarantees for its exercise have been further developed
in the laws and by-laws.
a person alleges that he or she has been subjected to torture representing
a crime in the sense of the Convention, he or she can communicate
that circumstance to investigative, Prosecutor's or police bodies.
If the information provided in the application is sufficient according
to article 186 of the Penal Procedure Code, preliminary proceedings
are instituted against the indicated perpetrator and the penal procedure
takes its course. Otherwise, when there are no sufficient data for
institution of preliminary proceedings and no urgent investigative
actions are necessary, the respective units of the Ministry of the
Interior and other administrative bodies conduct a preliminary inspection
within the shortest possible time and notify the Prosecutor's Office
thereof (article 191 of the Penal Procedure Code).
the national regulations concerning the right to complaints in general
and with reference to article 13 of the Convention, there are special
international legal possibilities for the persons alleging that they
were subjected to torture or other forms of cruel and degrading treatment.
Among them, the most important is the possibility under the European
Convention on Human Rights, to which Bulgaria is a party. Pursuant
to article 25 of this Convention, each person alleging that he or
she is a victim of a human rights violation, including torture, inhuman
or degrading treatment and punishment, may address his complaints
to the European Commission on Human Rights and expect the European
Court of Human Rights to act on them. The right to individual complaints
under article 25 of the European Convention is widely publicized in
various publications and commentaries explaining, in detail, who may
lodge a complaint, how and when, and what is the further procedure.
57. The Republic
of Bulgaria has undertaken a commitment not to interfere with the
exercise of that right. On the other hand, any person who has filed
a complaint with the European Court is protected against intimidation
in accordance with the general procedure.
58. In accordance
with article 14 of the Convention, the Republic of Bulgaria, as a
party to the Convention, has ensured the right of victims of torture
to be indemnified in a fair and adequate way, including means for
their fullest possible rehabilitation. Many normative acts, including
laws, resolutions of the National Assembly, ordinances, etc. were
adopted during the period under review. They provided the legal grounds
for undertaking considerable actions for a practical solution of these
questions in each specific case.
59. The most
comprehensive measure to that end is the Law on Political and Civic
Rehabilitation of Persecuted Persons of 1991. It regulates, in a most
exhaustive way, hypotheses envisaging the political and civic rehabilitation
of persons who were unlawfully persecuted because of their origin
or political and religious beliefs in the period 12 September 1944-10
November 1989. Article 2 of the Law indicates the persons who are
entitled to a lump sum as an indemnification for property and non-property
damages suffered. Under article 3, when the persons concerned are
dead, their heirs are entitled to indemnification. The size of the
compensation and the procedure are outlined in the Ordinance of 1992
on application of article 4 of the Law. Compensations are paid in
cash or in vouchers to be used for purchasing shares and other property
subject to privatization.
60. A central
and a number of regional commissions for political and civic rehabilitation
were set up on the basis of the Law and the Ordinance in order to
establish the circumstances related to indemnification. Prior to the
adoption of the Law and the Ordinance, the National Assembly adopted
several decisions on political and civic rehabilitation of persons
who were indicted or persecuted unlawfully. In practice, all legal,
organizational and financial prerequisites were created for a full
rehabilitation and fair compensation. A number of laws on amnesty
and restitution of seized property were passed. The 1988 Law on the
Liability of the State for Damages Caused to Citizens remained in
force in the period under review. It stipulates liability for damages
incurred due to unlawful acts, actions or inaction of State bodies
and officials in connection with administrative activities as well
as liability for acts of human rights institutions or legal bodies.
According to the Law, the indemnification covers all property and
non-property damages which are a direct and immediate consequence
of the harm done by unlawful official conduct. The inheritance of
the right to indemnification has also been provided for as well as
the procedure and conditions of making a claim and hearing a case.
article 14 of the Convention is incorporated and specified in the
Bulgarian legislation and no other special regulations are needed
to that end.
is no special indication in the Penal Procedure Code that statements
made as a result of torture should be accepted as evidence that such
a statement was made. This is a private hypothesis proceeding from
the Convention. But the absence of an express text in the law cannot
be accepted as an essential omission. By the fact of ratification
of the Convention and its entry into force, it has become an integral
part of the Bulgarian legislation and supersedes any domestic norms
in contradiction with the whole Convention and, in particular, with
its article 15.
article 84 of the Penal Procedure Code, "evidence in the legal proceedings
may be factual data related to the circumstances in the case, such
that contribute to their elucidation and are ascertained by the procedure
provided for in this Code". Accordingly, if the victim or any other
person makes a statement accusing a person of committing torture,
such statement is mandatorily attached to the other evidence with
regard to the case and are interpreted by the court along with it.
And if statements made in accordance with the respective procedure
have not been clarified or, unjustifiably, have not been accepted
as established, these are grounds for revocation or modification of
the sentence by the second instance (article 328 of the Penal Procedure
Code) or for "reopening penal cases due to newly found circumstances"
(article 362 of the Penal Procedure Code). In the last hypothesis
the court only revokes the sentence and returns the case for retrial
(article 364, paragraph 1, of the Penal Procedure Code).
64. The principle
of the inadmissibility of the use of torture to obtain evidence is
laid down in article 31 (2) of the Constitution of the Republic of
Bulgaria, which stipulates that "no one shall be forced to plead guilty
and no one shall be convicted solely by virtue of a confession". In
accordance with article 91 of the Penal Procedure Code, the accusation
and the sentence may not be based on the confessions of the accused
and do not exempt the corresponding bodies from their obligation to
collect other evidence in the case.
reference to the obligation ensuing from article 16 of the Convention,
article 29 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria expressly
states that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment".
66. A number
of texts in the Penal Code specify the notions of article 16 of the
Convention, namely: "causing physical suffering or humiliating human
dignity" (art. 36 (2)), "cruel treatment or systematic humiliation"
(art. 127 (3), "a manner which is painful or dangerous to the health
of the victim" (art. 142 (3)), "what is degrading for the honour and
dignity of another person" (art. 146 (1)), "a shameful circumstance"
(art. 147 (1)), etc.
67. By 1
August 1995 the total number of persons deprived of their liberty
in prisons and corrective institutions was 8,920. Of them, 6,242 were
convicts, 1,616 were defendants and 1,062 were under investigation.
68. It should
be noted that the number of detainees is bigger than the capacity
of the prison establishments. Living conditions are not good. Improvements
should be made, namely expanding housing areas and improving sanitary
facilities, bathrooms and washing rooms. Still, it would be an exaggeration
to say that the existing conditions in these establishments contain
elements of "other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
or punishment" in the sense of the Convention.
69. The Bulgarian
authorities are confident that counteracting torture and other forms
of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment should be a constant concern
of State institutions and civil society. Therefore, efforts are made
not just to react adequately in order to bring perpetrators of torture
to justice but, first and foremost, to take various measures to forestall
70. In this
context, the Bulgarian authorities are determined to promote all legal
and administrative prerequisites in order to guarantee the personal
inviolability of the human being and the protection of its rights,
and to prevent instances of violation of these rights, including torture.