Bulgaria's Migrant Policies 'disturbing': UN Rights Chief

Bulgaria's migrant policies 'disturbing': UN rights chief

GENEVA, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 11th August, 2016) : Bulgaria's "disturbing" policies on migrants and refugees including automatic detentions may violate international law, the UN rights chief said Thursday.

Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein said that while detaining migrants trying to enter the country was problematic, the policy of holding those trying to leave was "even worse" as it ran counter to basic laws on freedom of movement.

Zeid's comments came after his staff paid a second visit to the European Union-member country that shares a border with both Greece and Turkey, placing it on the frontlines of the continent's worst migrant crisis since World War II.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who has previously criticised Bulgaria's response to its migrant influx, noted that Sofia had made improvements in some areas such as processing asylum claims more quickly.

But he listed a series of unresolved problems, including attacks by the security services and vigilantes against migrants that consistently go unpunished as well as rising xenophobic rhetoric targeting foreigners.

Inflammatory statements have been made in the media and by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Zeid noted, strongly criticising the trend of "influential public figures expressing support for illegal armed vigilante groups who have been brazenly hunting down migrants." On detentions, Zeid accused Bulgaria of placing migrants in "an invidious Catch-22 situation." "One of the most serious problems is that virtually all people entering Bulgaria in an irregular manner are detained as a matter of course," Zeid said in the statement. Migrants trying to leave can be prosecuted or jailed for up to a year, he added. "This is clearly inhumane and unacceptable," said Zeid, also questioning "the State's compliance with international law."