Roma Marginalization 'Remains Bulgaria's Most Pressing Human Rights Problem'
The marginalization of "and societal intolerance towards the Romani minority remained the country's most pressing human rights problem", alongside anti-refugee sentiment and deteriorating media environment, the US Department of State says.
In its annual human rights report on Bulgaria, it says: "Other reported human rights problems included police violence; harsh conditions in prisons and detention facilities; and long delays in the judicial system. There were reports of religious discrimination and harassment; shortcomings in refugee integration processes and policies; election fraud; gender-based violence and discrimination against women; violence against children; increasing online anti-Semitism; trafficking in persons; discrimination against persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons; and social stigma against persons with HIV/AIDS. Child labor and discrimination against members of minorities in employment and occupation were also reported."
The State Department recalls that in 2015 the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) issued a statement concluding police brutality was a systemic problem, based on a significant number of allegations of deliberate physical mistreatment of persons detained by police.
Conditions in most prisons were "harsh, with inadequate sanitary, living and medical facilities" as of 2016, according to the report.
Another area of concern is the judiciary, as "the constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, but corruption, inefficiency, and a lack of accountability continued to be pervasive problems. Public trust in the judicial system remained extremely low because of the perception that magistrates were susceptible to political pressure and rendered unequal justice."
In the section about "corruption ald lack of transparency in government", the text reads: "While the law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials in all branches of government reportedly engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Corrupt practices included bribery, conflict of interest, elaborate embezzlement schemes, procurement violations, and influence trading."
Human rights "form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies. Standing up for human rights and democracy is not just a moral imperative but is in the best interests of the United States in making the world more stable and secure."
The reports also "reflect the concerted efforts of our embassies and consulates to gather the most accurate information possible. They are prepared by human rights officers at U.S. missions around the world who review information available from a wide variety of civil society, government, and other sources."
The report is available here.
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