Amnesty Internatonal – State of Human Rights in the World 2023 cla_team April 27, 2024

Amnesty Internatonal – State of Human Rights in the World 2023

права на човека 2023 Amnesty International

Amnesty International Report 2023: The State of the World’s Human Rights in 155 Countries and a Call to Action
This report presents human rights issues in 2023 in 155 countries at the global and regional levels and their implications for the future. States and armed groups tend to violate and circumvent the rules of war, and racism is at the root of some armed conflicts and their consequences. Economic crises, climate change and environmental degradation disproportionately affect marginalised communities. Human rights defenders who campaign for the rights of these communities are being targeted by a wider crackdown on so-called ‘dissent’. The backlash against the rights of women and girls and LGBTI people is intensifying. Instances of incitement to hatred and other ‘harmful’ content posted online against certain racial groups are increasing. Meanwhile, advances in artificial intelligence are being used to restrict freedoms and violate human rights. These are some of the general conclusions of the report.

Here we present the part concerning Bulgaria. Full text of the report at the bottom of the page.

Independent journalists and media covering organised crime and corruption continued to face threats, harassment and smear campaigns. Public officials and businesses filed numerous strategic lawsuits against journalists and reporters. In March, an insurance company filed a defamation lawsuit against independent news website Mediapool, claiming a record €1m (€500,000) in damages, which put the website at risk of bankruptcy.
In April, the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office published a screenshot of a journalist’s personal profile with the source. The Media Freedom Rapid Response project called this a “disturbing violation of the right to access information from the source confidentiality of the source”. In the same month, journalists Dimitar Stoyanov, Atanas Chobanov and Nikolai Marchenko were the subject of six defamation lawsuits over their reporting on links between a suspected drug trafficker and Bulgarian police officers. Media associations have publicly condemned the “repressive and annoying legal actions” against journalists.
In July, Parliament adopted amendments to the Criminal Code that provided better, if insufficient, protection for journalists against the Court, including a significant reduction in fines for defamation of public officials. The Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom has identified Bulgaria as a “high risk” country in terms of media freedom and pluralism.

Gender-based violence

In June, a man from Stara Zagora was arrested after a knife attack on his 18-year-old ex-girlfriend, who received injuries requiring more than 400 stitches. The local court described the wounds as “minor bodily harm”, and its decision to release the attacker on 5 July sparked nationwide protests and demands to end impunity for domestic violence. Amid public pressure, authorities re-arrested the man on July 30 and brought new charges against him in November.
In August, parliament passed amendments to the penal code and the Protection from Domestic Violence Act extending the right to protection to people who have experienced violence in an extramarital relationship and an “intimate relationship”. Civil society groups criticised the legal definition that an intimate relationship must have lasted at least 60 days to be covered by the law, while conservative groups opposed the amendments, saying they promoted “gender ideology”. Also in August, the government announced it was developing further measures to tackle the “hidden epidemic” of domestic violence.


In February, the Supreme Court of Cassation upheld the possibility of legal recognition of the gender of transgender people. In July, Parliament amended the Penal Code to include attacks on people because of their sexual orientation as hate crimes and imposed harsher penalties for perpetrators.

Also in July, the Sofia Court of Appeals convicted former presidential candidate Boyan Rasate of post-2021 hooliganism – assaulting an LGBTI activist at the Rainbow Hub community centre – and sentenced him to six months probation.

In September, the European Court of Human Rights found that Bulgaria had failed to legally recognise same-sex couples and violated people’s right to private and family life.


In July, the Commission for Protection against Discrimination fined the conservative party Bulgarian National Movement BGN 1,000 (EUR 500) and banned them from publishing hateful content against ethnic minorities on their website. On its website, the Commission described some of their publications as hate speech and said that making generalisations about ethnic groups constituted discrimination, which is prohibited by law.

Also in July, the Commission for the Protection against Discrimination said it was investigating cases in which Roma were denied access to public swimming pools across the country. In the same month, the prosecutor’s office investigated the pro-Russian Renaissance party after its official social media channel depicted a photo montage of Solomon Passy – a former foreign minister of Jewish origin – wearing the uniform of a concentration camp prisoner and being led away by Nazi soldiers, presumably to be gassed. The image is captioned, “If you don’t like Russian gas, take some of ours.”


The forced repulsion of refugees and migrants, increasingly accompanied by violence, remains widespread along borders, especially with Turkey. In March, the European Commission launched a €45 million project in Bulgaria to speed up the asylum process and strengthen border security and surveillance systems.

RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIESIn March, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) said Bulgaria had repeatedly violated the rights of Valia Lazarova, who was confined to a care home for eight years because of an intellectual disability and died in 2007. The Committee said Bulgaria had failed to ensure her protection and that she had “lost her life as a direct consequence of the deplorable conditions” in the care home.

In April, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture visited Bulgaria to review progress in implementing its long-standing recommendations on the “extremely worrying” situation of people held in psychiatric institutions and care homes. In November, Parliament set up a temporary committee tasked with proposing legislative changes to ensure that the rights of mental health patients are guaranteed in law.


Bulgaria’s dependence on fossil fuels remains high. In January, parliament voted to back away from plans to phase out coal-fired power plants early. In July, parliament instructed the energy minister to pursue fossil gas exploration in the Black Sea, which is contrary to the country’s obligations under the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions. The European Commission said Bulgaria would have to significantly strengthen its renewable energy targets to reflect the EU’s ambitious climate and energy goals.