The Center for Legal Aid – Voice in Bulgaria finds in its latest report that asylum seekers and migrants in Bulgaria are routinely detained without an individual assessment. The report also highlights that unaccompanied children are currently being detained, in grave violation of the Law of the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria.
Statistics in the report show that the number of detained persons has been rising since 2012. In 2015, for instance, 11,902 people were detained, including 2,523 children. Nationalities of people facing detention include Syrians, Afghans, and Iraqis. Most detention orders are given for irregularly crossing the border, lack of identity documents or intention to transit through Bulgaria to another country. Detention conditions are poor, people are not given information about their situation in a language they understand and there is an absence of medical care, the report states.
The report recommends the adoption of clear guidelines for assessing the different legal bases for detention, the regular provision of legal aid and interpretation services at detention and the effective use of alternatives to detention. The Centre for Legal Aid also calls on authorities to create open centres for unaccompanied children who are to be deported and urges them to provide legal aid and assistance from a social worker when decisions are being made as to their detention.
The report comes just after the European Commission stated that €108 million in emergency funding will be granted to the country to support its management of migration flows and border control.
For further information:
- Novinite, Bulgarian Vice Minister of Interior Gunev: Bulgaria Can Accept Up To 3,000 More Refugees, 21 September 2016
- Deutsche Welle, Child refugees struggle alone in Bulgaria, 2 September 2016
- ECRE/ELENA, Research Note: Reception conditions, detention and procedural safeguards for asylum seekers and content of international protection status in Bulgaria, February 2016