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Bulgaria: Rights Generally Respected, But Law Enforcement Problems Continue

Washington, 26 February 1999 (RFE/RL) - Bulgaria generally respected human rights in 1998, the U.S. State Department says while noting that problems persisted in some areas.

In its annual report on the status of human rights in Bulgaria, the State Department saw what it called continuing problems in the areas of law enforcement and the judiciary last year.

The rights report contends that some members of the police committed serious human rights abuses last year. There were reports of beatings and arbitrary arrests and detention. The U.S. noted that reforms designed to increase accountability have improved the government's control over the security forces.

However, the report adds that the control is incomplete and it says that a climate of impunity persists and inhibits the government's attempts to end police abuses.

The U.S. says conditions in some Bulgarian prisons are harsh. And, the report says, the judiciary is underpaid, understaffed and has a heavy case backlog.

Corruption in the judiciary remains a serious problem. The report cites the case of a journalist investigating crime and corruption who was physically attacked.

In the area of political rights, the report says constitutional restrictions on political parties formed on ethnic, racial or religious lines effectively limited participation for some groups.