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09.10.2009 @ 14:22 | Site News

On 8th October 2009 a group of civil organizations for protection of human rights in Bulgaria made an official inquiry to MIA and Migration Directorate concerning the investigation of the death of the Syrian citizen Mr.Hasun Albaadzh which happened on 6th October this year in the Special Home for Temporary Placement of Foreigners (SHTP) in Busmantsi (near the capital).
The SHTP is used for compulsory accommodation of foreigners with imposed orders for taking them to the border or for expulsion. The capacity of the center is 400 people. Presently 200 people are accommodated. Their number has grown after the entering of Bulgaria into the European Union. A high percentage of the accommodated have applied for the refugee status in Bulgaria.
The foreigners are accommodated in the center while their taking out of the country is provided. That should be done within the period of several days. Most of the people under detention however spend months and in some case years before being taken out of the country or released.
There is lack of effective remedies against imposition of detention. According to the legislative amendments of 15 May 2009, immigrants have only three days to appeal the detention order, which term starts to run from the moment of their factual detention and not from serving the detention order to them.
In the document Justice 21 Civil Initiative, Legal Help – Voice in Bulgaria Foundation, The Legal Clinic for Refugees and Immigrants at SU “St. Kliment Ohridsky” and Assistance Center for Torture Survivors (ACET) insist for complete transparency and maximum information concerning the investigation of MIA and its results. The inquiry insists for detailed information about the health condition of the man during his stay in the Detention Center as well as immediately prior to his death as well as about the medical help he had received during his detention.”
Hasun Albaadzh died suddenly on 6th October this year in the Detention Center where he had been compulsorily accommodated on 30th November 2006. According to the words of his roommates several days prior to his death he had asked for medical help, but nobody paid any attention to him. The man was never taken to a specialized hospital in spite of his multiple complaints and chronicle deceases, known by the administration of the center, which were treated only by analgesics.
The civil organizations also insist for an explanation of the situation with the legal statute of Mr. Hasun Albaadgzh and the reason for his 34-month detention. According to the new Law for Foreigners in Bulgaria ratified on 15th May 2009 the maximal term for detention is 6 months and only in special cases it is 18 months. The last two months the Syrian citizen was detained without additional order /administrative or legal/ after the expiration of the extended by the Administrative court of the city of Sofia term for detention.
The escalation of tension after the death of Mr. Albaadzh among the more than 200 aliens under detention is not a precedent. During the whole day of 7th October police detachments were situated on the territory of the center in order keep the order. According to the organizations for protection of human rights the main reason for the tension is the rude violation of the rights of citizens of third countries as well as the bad implementation of new regulations for the maximum term for detention according to the Law for Foreigners.
Quite soon after his release from the Detention Center Mr. Johnson Ibitui, citizen of Nigeria and a university lecturer, died. Our opinion is that the massive heart attack came as a result of the psychological stress and is a direct consequence of the things Mr. Ibitui experienced during the one-year meaningless detention in the center.
In their inquiry to MIA the civil organizations engage themselves to follow closely the investigation and to cooperate actively in order to avoid such incidents in future.

Source: Justice 21 Civil Initiative

Twelfth Annual Sighet Summer School, Romania
28.07.2009 @ 18:26 | Site News

Memorial of Victims of Communism and of the Resistance

13-20 July 2009

The director of the ACET, Mimoza Dimitrova participated at the 12 edition of the Sighet Summer School that took place in Romania from 13 to 20 July 2009.
The Sighet Summer School has been organized every year since 1998 by the Civic Academy Foundation, in collaboration with Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The initiative which runs as a part of the Memorial of Victims of Communism and of the Resistance is attended by high-school students at the age of 14 and 18 years and by history teachers. The lecturers are historians and specialists in the history of communism from Europe and the United States as well as dissidents and fighters against communism from all the Eastern Europe. The Memorial of Victims of Communism and of the Resistance is built on the ruins of the former political prison in Sighet that was transformed into a National Museum open for visitors.
The Twelfth Annual Sighet Summer School was dedicated to twenty years since the fall of the communisms. There were presentations from Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, the Moldavian republic, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Germany. Mrs Mimoza Dimitrova presented an expose on the topic Nostalgia for the communist past twenty years after the political changes in Bulgaria. In the conference an accent was also put on The repression against culture and the Noica-Pillat trial that was against prominent representatives of the Romanian intellectuals. The basic idea around which the school was organized can be defined by the words of Ana Blandiana (president of the Memorial of Victims of Communism and of the Resistance; prominent writer and dissident) – When justice does not succeed in being a form of memory, memory alone can be a form of justice.

Publisher: Centre ACET

Training seminar within the framework of the project Providing and Enhancing Quality Rehabilitation Services for Second Generation Victims of Torture - 9-10 July
11.07.2009 @ 12:56 | Site News

“The traumatic experience of delinquent adolescents. Transgenerational aspects” was the topic of the two day training seminar, organized by ACET, supported by European Commission.
The seminar was attended by experts from institutions and organizations working with minors who are trespassers or who committed public nuisance.
Speakers of the seminar were Mimoza Dimitrova – a psychologist, psychotherapist an executive director of ACET; Diana Tsirkova – a psychologist, children psychotherapist; Ventseslav Vutov – psychologist and psychotherapist; Malen Malenov – psychotherapist. Main points of their exposes were issues as: ‘When children become adolescents?’, ‘Do all children go through the process of adolescence?’, ‘Are adolescents understandable?’, ‘When the experience has a traumatic effect?’.
During the seminar the speakers presented guidelines for interviewing parents of juveniles, committed public nuisance as well as made assumptions on the place of children in the family regarding particular difficult practice cases presented by the participants.

Publisher: Centre ACET

IRCT global reading on the occasion of the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, 26 June 2009
24.06.2009 @ 16:52 | 26 June

Twenty-five years ago, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights submitted a draft document to the UN General Assembly. The aim was to give the world an effective tool to help abolish torture. At the time there already existed several declarations and covenants condemning torture and promoting human dignity and rights. But the UN system lacked legally binding obligations to both prevent torture and provide support to torture survivors.

The document submitted to the UN General Assembly Later was the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The General Assembly adopted the Convention and invited States to sign and ratify it. Three years later, on 26 June 1987, the Convention officially came into force.

At present, 146 states have ratified the Convention, thus sending a powerful political message that torture is illegal and has no place in our world. Momentum is also growing around the Convention’s Optional Protocol. The Protocol obliges its signatories to create effective measures to prevent torture and ill-treatment in any territory under their jurisdiction, and to establish mechanisms for independent monitoring of places of detention – one of the primary places where torture occurs.

The 26th of June has become a moving symbol of our moral, ethical and professional obligations to prevent torture and to ensure the rights of torture survivors and their families. For more than a decade, the world has commemorated 26 June as the occasion of the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. On this day, thousands of individuals and organisations across the globe speak out against torture and demand that torture survivors’ needs and rights be fulfilled.

Right now, treatment centres and programmes that are members of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) are jointly raising their voices across the world, reading out this statement.

It is a statement of global solidarity. A statement which shows that no matter where we are and who we are – regardless of ethnic and cultural background, language and religion – we are united against torture and in solidarity with torture survivors and their families. It is a reminder that every day, people around the world are subjected to torture. But also a reminder that they can, with the appropriate support, rebuild their lives after suffering under torture’s cruel hand.

In the years following the 1984 presentation of the draft Convention before the United Nations, there have been dramatic shifts in human rights trends. Twenty-five years ago, many countries were emerging from oppressive regimes that systematically tortured their opponents.

Today torture in some of those countries has been dramatically reduced. But other countries that were previously dedicated to the anti-torture struggle have weakened their stance under the guise of protecting national security. Indeed, several democratic states have directly engaged in or endorsed torture, claiming this fundamental affront to human dignity to be an effective and necessary tool to prevent acts of terrorism.

The challenges are great. A collective, multi-disciplinary effort is needed to combat the widespread, illegal practice of torture against individuals and communities. Today, 25 years after the Convention against Torture was handed to the UN General Assembly, a renewed global commitment to its principles is urgently needed.

We call on all UN institutions to clearly and even-handedly denounce all states practicing torture. And we call on all citizens, communities and grass root organisations to push for universal ratification of the Convention and to ensure that their States abide by it and end the illegal and abhorrent practice of torture once and for all.

This 26 June, we honour the countless girls and boys, women and men who have suffered this terrible crime - those who paid with their lives as well as those who have survived. We pay tribute to their strength and courage. And with our collective voice, we stand together against torture.

Dr Abdel Hamid Afana, IRCT President
Brita Sydhoff, IRCT Secretary-General

Source: IRCT

From the part of Amnesty International report 2009 concerning Bulgaria
30.05.2009 @ 08:32 | Site News

Asylum-seekers and migrants

Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants continued to be detained for months and even years awaiting expulsion. National NGOs continued to express concern that such detentions had become routine practice, contravening legislation that such a measure should be used only as a last resort.

"...150 peaceful marchers faced violence from counter-demonstrators who threw stones, bottles and Molotov cocktails."

In April, Iraqi asylum-seekers set light to furniture in the Special Centre for the Temporary Accommodation of Foreigners (SCTAF) in Busmantsi, near the capital, Sofia, in protest against a change of policy decreasing the level of protection in Bulgaria for Iraqi asylum-seekers. UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, had previously raised concerns about this change, which the authorities defended by alleging lack of space in the reception centres. The NGO Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) filed appeals in the courts against more than 40 decisions to reject applications between December 2007 and March 2008.

Said Kadzoev, a Russian national of Chechen origin, continued to face forcible return to the Russian Federation where he would be at serious risk of torture and other ill-treatment. He had been held in detention in the SCTAF in Busmantsi since 1 November 2006, and in solitary confinement for prolonged periods with no explanation from the authorities. The Head of the Migration Directorate of Bulgaria announced in May that a third safe country would be sought for Said Kadzoev’s deportation. In October a complaint was filed with the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that the rejection of his asylum claim, his administrative detention for more than two years and his arbitrary placement in solitary confinement for excessive periods, compounded by alleged physical ill-treatment during detention, constituted a violation of his rights.



Torture and other ill-treatment

In February, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) issued a report on its visit to Bulgaria in September 2006 stating that efforts should be increased to combat ill-treatment of detainees and to improve detention facilities.

In April, the BHC denounced the non-compliance with international standards of legislation covering the use of firearms by law enforcement officials. The BHC also reported on cases of ill-treatment by police officials, in particular towards Roma, at the time of arrest or during detention. These were often not adequately investigated.

On 2 October, Sofia’s Military Court sentenced five police officers to a total of 82 years’ imprisonment after convicting them of beating 38-year-old Angel Dimitrov to death in 2005. His death was initially explained by the police as the result of a heart attack, but a second autopsy demanded by relatives showed that he had died from blows to the head. An appeal against the decision, to be reviewed by the Military Court of Appeals, was pending at the end of the year. Sofia’s Military Court had previously issued a sentence against the five police officers in November 2007, but the decision was repealed by the Military Court of Appeals.
Ill-treatment in custody
In February the CPT reported overcrowding and verbal abuse against inmates in prison facilities visited in 2006, as well as allegations of physical ill-treatment by prison staff.

The BHC also reported that conditions in many prisons continued to be below those required by international standards.

On 6 March, Bulgaria was found by the European Court of Human Rights to be in violation of the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment. Nikolai Kirilov Gavazov, a prisoner accused of rape, spent nearly two years on remand in a tiny, windowless cell in Pazardjik prison, central Bulgaria. The Court also found that the seven-year length of the court case was excessive.
Mental health institutions
In February the CPT, following visits to mental health and social care institutions in 2006, raised serious concerns about admission procedures, ill-treatment and living conditions at the institutions visited.

The CPT highlighted the lack of staff, staff training and resources in such institutions, conditions which had led to violent incidents, limited therapeutic options and insufficient provision of rehabilitation programmes. Despite recommendations by the CPT in 2002 that attention be given to improving living conditions, these remained inadequate.

In February, following a BBC television documentary highlighting extremely poor conditions at the Mogilino childcare institution, the Minister of Labour and Social Policy announced that this and another six similar institutions would be closed down.


Source: Amnesty International

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