23 October 2015

On 16 October 2015, 19 years old Ziahullah Vafa from Afghanistan was shot when trying to cross the Turkish-Bulgarian border by Bulgarian border guards. According to unanimous testimonies collected by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee of 20 people who were trying to cross the border with Ziahullah, the group dispersed in different directions one intercepted by four or five border police officers. No one from the group resisted or behaved aggressively towards the officers but two of them started shooting.

“It is shameful that people fleeing to the EU to access the international protection they need are met by violence at our borders. This incident demands a full and independent investigation so that the necessary safeguards or changes in procedures can be put into place,” stated ECRE Secretary General Michael Diedring.

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee has issued a statement raising concerns over the significant inconsistencies in the Interior Ministry’s accounts of the event, which claims that the group was aggressive and resisted arrest resulting in one of the officers producing a warning shot in the air which accidentally wounded and killed someone in the group – a 56 year old man.

The organisation calls for a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation of this tragic event, in particular to establish whether the firearm was used under conditions of absolute necessity, as required by Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Bulgarian legislation.


This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 23 October 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.