Bulgaria's government actions in the fight against human rights abuses are insufficient and impunity is still a problem, the U.S. Department of State said in a recent report.
Some of the significant human rights issues found in Bulgaria include violent treatment by police, arbitrary arrests and serious problems with judicial independence as well as violence and threats against journalists, corporate and political pressure on media and serious acts of corruption, the State Department said in a report on human rights practices published on Tuesday.
"While the law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials in all branches of government reportedly engaged in corrupt practices with impunity," the report reads. "There were reports of government corruption, including bribery, conflict of interest, elaborate embezzlement schemes, procurement violations, and influence trading."
According to the State Department, there are reports of government officials employing violent and degrading treatment during inspections and detentions of citizens while conditions in prisons and detention centres are generally poor.
"The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, but corruption, inefficiency, and lack of accountability were pervasive problems. Public trust in the judicial system in Bulgaria remains low because of the perception that magistrates were susceptible to political pressure and rendered unequal justice," it adds.
Corporate and political pressure, combined with the growing and nontransparent concentration of media ownership and distribution networks, as well as government regulation of resources, including EU funds, and support for media, gravely damaged media pluralism, the State Department said.
"The consolidation of media ownership by oligarchs made news outlets increasingly vulnerable to political influence over editorial policy. Independent media outlets were subject to open attacks from politicians at all levels and from administrative and judicial pressure," the State Department also said.