Human Rights WatchWorld Report ContentsDownloadPrintOrderHRW Homepage

World map Bulgaria



Europe and Central Asia

Middle East and North Africa

Special Issues and Campaigns

United States


Children’s Rights

Women’s Human Rights


Human Rights Developments

Abuses against Roma and restrictions on Islamic practitioners, and trade in arms in violation of a U.N. embargo offset improvement in other fields in Bulgaria, notably in freedom of expression.

Roma were victims of police brutality and violent attacks by private citizens who acted with impunity. Numerous cases of police ill-treatment include the beating of two young Roma, Marin Ivanov and Marin Gheorghiev, in the police station in Silistra, on November 18, 1999. Sixteen-year-old Tsvetalin Perov suffered third-degree burns on April 29, 2000, in police detention in Vidin, after being beaten and losing consciousness. On 5 July Traicho Liubomirov, a nineteen-year-old Rom, was shot dead upon arrest on suspicion of car theft in Sofia. The authorities acquiesced in the harassment and discrimination against Roma by private citizens. Ethnic Bulgarian residents in a neighborhood of Burgas signed a petition on November 4, 1999, calling for the expulsion of Roma and the demolition of Roma houses. Villagers in Mechka refused to allow Roma in public places and threatened them with expulsion after an unresolved murder on April 4, 2000.

The Parliament failed to adopt legislation of any kind to prevent discrimination against Roma in education, health care, regional, urban planning, or other areas, although such changes were envisaged by the Framework Programme for the Integration of Roma in Bulgarian Society, adopted by the government in April 1999.

On February 29, the Constitutional Court banned the Macedonian minority-based OMO Ilinden-Pirin party, which had been registered in the winter of 1999. The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee criticized the move and rejected the court's allegation that the group was advocating the secession of Pirin.

On January 8, six Islamic preachers were expelled for preaching without a permit under articles 22 and 23 of the Denominations Act (1949), despite a 1992 ruling by the Constitutional Court that these articles were unconstitutional. On August 9, Ahmad Naim Mohammed Musa, a citizen of Jordan and permanent resident of Bulgaria, was expelled from the country for allegedly preaching "radical" Islam. The chief mufti denied that Musa carried on any religious activities, and human rights groups stated that the government's accusation was based upon claims that a foundation Musa headed had provided assistance to the chief mufti's office, helping the office obtain financial independence from the state.

On January 12, the Bulgarian Parliament abolished the penalty of imprisonment for libel or slander, but replaced it the following day with heavy fines. President Stoyanov vetoed the bill providing for the fines. On June 1, 2000, a company owned by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch was awarded a license for the first private nationwide television channel. License applications by two Bulgarian companies were pending as of September.

In a report published in March, a U.N. Security Council committee investigating violations of sanctions against Angola's UNITA rebel movement found that Bulgaria had supplied weapons and training to the rebels. Bulgaria set up a commission of inquiry into the charges; on May 9 the commission announced that it had found no evidence of a violation of the embargo. (See Arms chapter.)

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

Current Events

The Latest News - Archive





Republic of Belarus

Bosnia and Hercegovina



Czech Republic








Russian Federation





United Kingdom / Northern Ireland


Federal Republic of Yugoslavia



Copyright © 2001
Human RIghts Watch