Communiquè from the Bulgarian Prisoners`Rehabilitation Association

On the 26.07.2012 the Bulgarian Prisoners` Rehabilitation Association
(B.P.R.A.) was registered in the Sofia City Court (Bulgaria). We are an
association comprised completely of prisoners and ex-prisoners.

The Association is the voice of this part of the Bulgarian society, that
up to now has been completely ignored- the prisoners. Our main goal is to
reduce the massive difference between prisoners´ rights in other E.U.
member states and these in Bulgaria. At the moment Bulgaria has the
highest record of human rights abuses in their judicial system out of all
the E.U. states. Yet, for many years Bulgaria´s inhumane prison
administration has gone unnoticed by the international and European
communities. The Association´s goals will be difficult to achieve as every
facet of review in Bulgaria is corrupted by apathy, laziness, nepotism,
cronyism and greed.

Bulgaria is one of the last E.U. states to have prisons and remand prisons
without toilets or running water in the cells. This means potentially up
to twelve prisoners defecating in an open bucket in one cell. There is no
right to parole and the only visits are up to 40 minutes twice a month and
only behind bars. The damaging effects of these practices upon the
prisoners´s families and the prisoners´ mental health are well documented,
yet the Bulgarian state still subscribes to ”the lock up and forget
practices” of the 19th century. Bulgaria is one of the last countries in
Europe that still has life sentence. There is no maximum prison term and
people are sentenced to die in prison.

The Bulgarian penal code and legislation governing administrations are
hundred years behind those of western European countries. To build new
prisons would be useless, if the same corrupted administrators stay and if
the law allowing them to make arbitrary decisions, will not be changed.

1. The law must be changed to one protecting the rights of the prisoners.
For example, the Bulgarian prison administrations are not required to
justify why they don`t want to release a prisoner on parole.

2. The administrators need to be purged of cronyism and all appointments
of all prison employees need to be reviewed. An independent commission
should be established that should receive prisoner´s complains and
appeals.

3. The criminal law should be changed so that the prisons are not full of
petty thieves. For stealing 10 euros one can get up to 2 years in prison.
The B.P.R.A. does not see this imprisonment as a solution to Bulgaria´s
social problems.

The B.P.R.A. also is in solidarity with Emil Orlinov Aleksiev. He is a
disabled prisoner in Sofia Central Prison who was brutally beaten up by a
guard with a wood. Colleague Aleksiev was brave enough to submit a
complaint, which arrived in the hands of the the guards and their
collaborating “flying monkeys”. He has suffered physical assaults ever
since.

The B.P.R.A. requests help and solidarity from across Europe. We hope that
once people will be aware of the appalling state of affairs in the
Bulgarian judicial system they will rally to reform corrupted Bulgaria.

Regards,

Chairman of B.P.R.A. – Jock Palfreeman

Sofia, 12.09.2012