Children of Bulgeria

Police Violence and Arbitrary Confinement

Children in Bulgaria are often deprived of their basic rights by police, the very people who are supposed to protect them. After conducting a fact-finding mission to Bulgaria in the spring of 1996, Human Rights Watch concludes that street children are often subjected to physical abuse and other mistreatment by police, both on the street and in police lock-ups, and by skinhead gangs, who brutally attack the children because of their Roma (Gypsy) ethnic identity. Once detained by police, children fall victim to gross procedural inadequacies in the juvenile justice system in Bulgaria. Through administrative bodies, known as Local Commissions for Combating Juvenile Delinquency (ALocal Commission@), children may be sentenced to confinement in one of eleven Labor Education Schools (the Bulgarian equivalent of juvenile reform institutions) in Bulgaria, for their education. The practice of confining children to these essentially penal institutions, without due process, violates international law. Further, the conditions in Labor Education Schools, where children may be confined for up to three years, are notoriously harsh and do little to advance the development of the child=s overall wellbeing, and do much to impede it. This report will address the subjects of police mistreatment and abuse of street children, and the Labor Education School system in Bulgaria.

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