Media Freedom in Bulgaria Deteriorates Further - Amnesty International
Amnesty International published its 2020/2021 Report on the State of the World's Human Rights on Wednesday and the part about Bulgaria reads that media freedom and freedom of association have further deteriorated, as authorities targeted journalists and critics, and cracked down on anti-government protests.
The report further says that the authorities placed some Roma communities under mandatory COVID-19 quarantines and severely restricted their movement, while officials engaged in openly racist rhetoric towards Roma. Domestic violence remained
widespread and resources to support victims were insufficient. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people faced
discrimination and social exclusion.
The part about freedom of expression reads that as part of the COVID-19 emergency measures in March, the Bulgarian government proposed amendments to the Criminal Code that would impose heavy fines and prison sentences for dissemination of false information. However, the President vetoed the proposal before it became law, citing its negative impact on freedom of
Media freedom continued to deteriorate, Amnesty International says, with journalists investigating organized crime and corruption facing intense political and prosecutorial pressure in the form of threats and intimidation.
The organization highlights a case from last July when investigative reporter Nikolay Staykov was questioned by the Prosecutor's Office and threatened with prosecution after he released a documentary which implicated the Prosecutor's Office in a financial crime.
Several journalists covering the anti-government protests in the capital, Sofia, in September were physically assaulted by
police; one was detained for hours. The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights called the actions "unacceptable"
and urged the authorities to investigate the attacks, Amnesty International says.
Amnesty International recalls that in its Rule of Law Report in September, the European Commission expressed serious concerns
about the lack of transparency of media ownership and noted that media remained subject to systematic political control. Ranking 111th out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index, Bulgaria remained the EU member state with the lowest standard of media freedom, the NGO says. BTA
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