Anti-Terror Bill: Bulgarian MPs Agree to Give Army Police Powers
Bulgarian lawmakers have passed on a final reading anti-terror legislation which boosts the role of security and law enforcement services in cases of a terror-related emergency.
The military will be authorized to detain suspects until the arrival of police in case of a terror-related emergency.
Under the proposed bill, security and law-enforcement officers will be authorized to access private properties and use citizens' cars if necessary during an anti-terror operation. Physical force will be allowed in cases of "utmost necessity".
The officers will be able to restrict the movement, suspend access to Internet or seize documents of people suspected of preparing a terrorist act. Wiretapping suspects will be allowed up to three years, instead of the current six-month period. Outgoing Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova has argued she preferred that rights of a few citizens are curbed to protect millions of others.
Opponents of the bill have warned the government is sacrificing freedoms for the sake of security. Defenders, however, point out the curbs will only be in force within the perimeter of an "anti-terror operation".
The introduction of a state of emergency will also be allowed through a decree of Parliament or the President.
The bill also includes three degrees of alert. The highest ope could also be triggered in cases of a threat in a neighboring territory.
Separately, four degrees of readiness will be established, the fourth one launching a set of anti-terror measures that institutions, including schools and kindergartens, will have to apply.
The State Agency for National Security (DANS), Bulgaria's counter-intelligence agency, will be able to send undercover agents to prevent suspects from preparing or carrying out a terror attack.
Other changes foresee a ban on registering more than 10 prepaid SIM cards per person.
By restricting the actions of telecoms, lawmakers argue they pose obstacles for attack plotters, who normally use multiple cards while organizing terror activities.
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