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Bulgaria - Human Rights Committee - Women's Human Rights - July 2011

Challenges with addressing domestic violence in compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 102nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, 11-29 July 2011

Partner: Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation

The Advocates for Human Rights has worked in Bulgaria since 1994 in partnership with the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation to:

  • Publish human rights reports on domestic violence in Bulgaria in 1996 and 2008;
  • Train court monitors in 2004;
  • Consult on drafting and passing the 2005 Law on Protection against Domestic Violence ("the Law"); and
  • Train police and judges on effective implementation of the new law.

We applaud the passage of the 2005 law, its 2009 amendment, and the subsequent efforts towards effective implementation, as well as the Bulgarian government's national programs for prevention and protection against domestic violence, financial support for shelters, and specialized services for victims.

Despite the many positive steps the Bulgarian government has taken, further changes need to be made in order to effectively implement the Law and provide for better protection of women. Bulgaria should reform the law to promote accountability for domestic violence perpetrators, continue trainings of the legal sector and public awareness campaigns, ensure adequate funding and implement the necessary programs in order to create zero tolerance toward domestic violence.

The Advocates made the following recommendations:

1. Amendments to Domestic Legislation

  • Amend the criminal laws to allow state prosecution in cases of low and medium-level assaults when the victim and perpetrator are related, and promote policies that require prosecutors to press charges against defendants without the consent or involvement of the victim.
  • Promote policies that ensure that aggrieved persons are not further victimized by the removal of their children from their custody.

2. Justice and Legal Sectors

  • Ensure that the state adequately and consistently supports and funds NGOs to continue regular trainings on women's human rights, domestic violence and implementation of the Law for police, prosecutors, judges, Directorate of Social Assistance, and child protection authorities.
  • Continue working to increase the coordinated community response.

3. Funding

  • Continue to provide NGOs with sufficient and regular funding. 

4.  Public Education and Prevention

  • Support comprehensive prevention programs and educational programs in educational institutions.