Legal Action on Problematic Bulgarian Police Law Provisions

16 December 2003

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and ERRC Seek Intervention of the Bulgarian Constitutional Court concerning the Obligation of the Police to Respect an Individual's Right to Liberty and Personal Security

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) and the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) have undertaken a joint initiative to have the Bulgarian Constitutional Court rule on the absence in domestic law of a duty for the police to inform a detainee of the reasons for her arrest in a language which she understands.

The BHC and the ERRC have addressed the Bulgarian President, Prime-Minister, Attorney General, the President of the Supreme Court of Cassation, and the President of the Supreme Administrative Court and have invited these individuals/institutions to initiate proceedings in abstracto before the Bulgarian Constitutional Court concerning the obvious incompatibility of domestic legislation governing police arrest and detention with binding international human rights standards.

Specifically, the BHC and the ERRC have asserted that Article 70 of the Ministry of Interior Act, which fails to require the arresting police officers to inform a detainee of the reasons for her arrest in a language which she understands, is in clear violation of Article 5(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 9(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as Article 10(3) of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

In their communication, the BHC and the ERRC have stressed the importance of human rights protection at the domestic level and expressed their belief that the addressees, all of which have standing to initiate proceedings before the Constitutional Court, will exercise their competence and make it possible for the highest Bulgarian judicial instance to declare the said provision in violation of international law. Were the Court to do so, the Bulgarian Parliament would be required to adopt new legislation guaranteeing an individual's fundamental right to liberty and personal security.

For additional details regarding the above action, please contact Branimir Plese, ERRC Legal Director. (Email:, Phone: +361 413 2200).


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