Ban on ethnic political parties in Bulgaria ruled illegal by European Court

07 November 2001

On October 3, 2001, the European Court of Human Rights declared in a 6-1 judgement on the case of Stankov and the United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden v. Bulgaria that the Bulgarian government had violated Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights when it refused to register an ethnic Macedonian organisation in 1991. Article 11 states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others." The Southwest Bulgarian based United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden was founded in 1990. In 1991, Bulgarian courts refused registration to the association on the grounds that "Its aims were in reality directed against the unity of the nation, that it advocated ethnic hatred and was dangerous for the territorial integrity of Bulgaria." Numerous Romani and other organisations in Bulgaria have been forced to register under names concealing their ethnic character as a result of a constitutional ban on ethnic parties, as well as widespread anxiety in Bulgaria that such organisational efforts constitute separatism.



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