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The Board of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum is deeply concerned by the recent persecution of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) and calls to stop all attempts to ban its work.

On 30 September 2019, one of the parties in the ruling coalition in Bulgaria, VMRO-BND, asked the Prosecutor General of Bulgaria to initiate proceedings for de-registration, i.e. prohibition of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. [1] The VMRO-BND insists that the BHC “interferes with the judiciary” contrary to Article 117 of the Constitution of Bulgaria, which provides that the judicial power is independent, by organising seminars and other educational events with prosecutors and judges and representing clients in the European Court of Human Rights and before domestic courts. On 9 October 2019, the Prosecutor General refused to bring proceedings for the BHC closure, but VMRO stated it would continue prosecuting the organization, and filed a lawsuit with the Sofia City Court to suspend its work. [2]

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee founded in 1992 is the largest and the oldest human rights organisation in Bulgaria. The objectives of the committee are to promote respect for the human rights of every individual, to stimulate legislative reform to bring the Bulgarian legislation in line with international human rights standards, to trigger public debate on human rights issues, to carry out advocacy for the protection of human rights, and to make human rights instruments widely known and available.

The Board of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum considers these attacks as an assault on human rights and freedom of expression and calls on the Government of Bulgaria to reject all these attempts to attack the BHC and to ensure the free and effective work of human rights defenders in the country.

10 October, 2019

 

Contacts:

Mikhail Tumasov, Board Member, EU-Russia Civil Society Forum/ Russian LGBT Network (St. Petersburg, Russia), mtumasov@lgbtnet.org

Nina Berezner, Board Member, EU-Russia Civil Society Forum/ DestinationEst (Paris, France), nina.berezner@gmail.com

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