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Concluding Observations, CAT/ C/BGR/CO/4-5, 14 December 2011: Bulgaria

28. While acknowledging the stance taken by the authorities in publicly condemning manifestations of discrimination and intolerance, the Committee is deeply concerned at manifestations of discrimination and intolerance, including hate speech and violent attacks against certain national and religious minorities and persons belonging to sexual minorities. The Committee is also concerned by the excessive use of force by the police against certain minorities and the recent anti-Roma riots and destruction of property, which in some cases occurred without preventive action from the police.

It is also concerned that slogans amounting to hate speech are voiced against vulnerable minority groups, including by members of certain political parties and groups and that intolerance towards religious minorities has resulted in vandalism of places of worship and attacks on worshippers. The Committee takes note that the recent attacks on journalists in connection with the anti-Roma riots are being investigated (arts. 2, 12, 13, 14 and 16).

The State party should enhance efforts to eradicate stereotypes and discrimination against the Roma and other national minorities, including through increased awareness-raising and information campaigns to promote tolerance and respect for diversity. Measures should be taken to prohibit and prevent advocacy of hate speech, discrimination and intolerance, including in the public domain, in conformity with international standards and human rights instruments to which Bulgaria is a party. The State party should enhance the enforcement of anti-discrimination legislation and ensure that violent acts, discrimination and hate speech are systematically investigated, prosecuted and the perpetrators convicted and punished.

The State party should systematically apply provisions of the Criminal Code concerning crimes based on intolerance and should ensure that offences motivated by discrimination constitute an aggravating circumstance in criminal prosecution. The State party should ensure that members of the Roma community are not singled out on an ethnically motivated basis with regard to the use of force by the police and ensure that excessive use of force against members of national and other minorities is promptly and impartially investigated and perpetrators prosecuted and punished. The victims need to be compensated and accorded all remedies afforded by the Convention, including reparations for damage. The Committee requests to be updated on the results of the investigations into the recent attacks on journalists.

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