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    Refugees behind a barred window at Bulgaria's shelter for clandestine migrants near Lyubimets (File)

    Bulgarian Laws Need Revision Amid Concerns About Inhumane Treatment of Migrants

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    Krassimir Kanev, chairman of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, stated that the level of xenophobic hate speech in Bulgaria is higher than the average in the rest of Europe.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The legal system in Bulgaria needs several improvements amid the ongoing migrant crisis and concerns about the inhumane treatment of migrants and asylum seekers, Krassimir Kanev, chairman of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the country's largest non-profit human rights organization, told Sputnik on Monday.

    On Thursday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Hussein criticized Bulgaria for its approach to the migrant issue, stressing that criminalizing migrants for entering and leaving Bulgaria irregularly is against international law and that jailing migrants is not a solution.

    "Our legislation has been amended many times as a result of the requirements of the law of the European Union. Nevertheless, there is a need for further improvement, e.g. with respect to detention — current framework is too restrictive; with respect of introducing guarantees against arbitrariness in cases of administrative detention; with respect to fair trial in criminal proceedings of migrants — with introduction of effective legal defense and proper translation; with respect to guardianship of minors — currently we don't have a possibility for a short-term guardianship of minors who enter the country as migrants," Kanev said.

    Commenting on the statement by Zeid, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee chairman said more attention should be payed to allegations of abuse by law enforcers on the country's borders.

    "We would have him elaborate in more detail about the allegations of physical abuse and theft by law enforcement officials at borders. We have similar concerns and this is an issue which merits more elaboration as it is related to serious crimes committed by government agents," Kanev said.

    The chairman noted that the level of xenophobic hate speech in Bulgaria is higher than the average in the rest of Europe.

    "The level of xenophobic hate speech in Bulgaria is much higher compared to other European countries. The situation with islamophobia is less serious but it is worsening," he said.

    On July 22, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that the country was preparing for an increase in the numbers of migrants crossing the country's border with Turkey. A total of $3.6 million was approved for the construction of an anti-migrant fence on the Bulgarian-Turkish border in response to the growing number of migrants reaching Bulgaria.

    Along with other European countries, the Balkan nation is struggling to handle the massive refugee crisis as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee war and poverty in conflict-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa.


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    refugees, human rights, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Krassimir Kanev, Bulgaria
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