Human Rights in Bulgaria in 2017
In 2017, for the first time since the beginning of the democratic transition of Bulgaria, a party that denies basic democratic principles and human rights became part of the government. Its leaders used hate speech towards vulnerable groups of the society (ethnic and religious minorities included) to stoke people's fear and gain votes. In addition, media relayed many fake news. Both discredited civil society organisations promoting human rights. These are some of the developments highlighted in the 2017 report on human rights published by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC).
Overall, 2017 was a year of stagnation, if not deterioration, in the protection of human rights in Bulgaria, concludes BHC. Public authorities and institutions ignored violations and civil society organisations were not able to make their voices heard. Regarding refugee integration for example, the report points out that the Ordinance for Integration of Refugees adopted in 2016, after 2 years of discussions, was never implemented before being revoked on 31 March 2017. This decision was taken to fulfil President Rumen Radev's electoral promise, in complete violation of the national constitution and its principle of separation of powers. The new Ordinance of 19 July 2017 does however not differ much from the previous one and lacks concrete measures and budget. Bulgaria has not had a integration strategy for 4 consecutive years.
The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee publishes Human Rights reports since 1992.