We are currently waiting for our association to be registered in the Sofia city court, a strange bulgarian law means all NGO’s have to be registered through the courts.So far the judge overlooking the registration has made no objection to the right of the association of prisoners and has requested that the associations president – Jock Palfreeman have his signature confirmed by witnesses as the court failed to call the founding members in person to the court hearing.

The Bulgarian Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Association will be the first of it’s kind in bulgarian history as far as we know. It marks a massive leap forward in Eastern Europe prisoners’ rights as it is the manifestation of the collective wills of prisoners in Bulgaria. It marks a more intensive and organised struggle by prisoners to combat the corruption of the penitentiary institutions. Unlike Western Europe, in Bulgaria if there is no specific law guaranteeing a right then you simply don’t have it. Unlike Western Europe where to loose a right it must be pro-actively banned under legislation. This means that as the bulgarian laws are so vague prisoners are left to the discretion of arbitrary prison administrators. The lack of laws covering parol leads to massive corruption. The prisons are responsible for recommending prisoners for parol to the courts, where only a judge can grant parol or early release. By purposfully denying parol to 99% of prisoners, the cost of a bribe to be granted parols is pushed up. It’s simple capitalist economy and it’s monopolised by the prisoners’ administrators and then the courts. Supply and demand.

The Prisoners’ association doesn’t actually object to the corruption of the bulgarian prison administrations, after all we enjoy paying them for vodka and mobile phones. However what we do object to is the denial of parol to 99% of prisoners in order to superficially increase the price of the bribe to be recommended for parol. With less than 1% of prisoners in Bulgaria being granted parol we take exception to the profiting from human misery and the purposeful increasement of human misery with the sole purpose of maximizing profit and reducing work for the administrators of the prisons.

  1. At the time of writing 7 foreign prisoners are on hunger strike since the 28th of june. 2 of the hunger strikers received punishments for refusing to continue working in the Sofia Central Prison’s kitchen. The director of Sofia Central Prison is making a clear message that peacful protest against his corruption will not be tolerated.
  2. Several cells in the “Busmansi” immigration prison were burnt, 4 suspects, 3 Iraquis and a Syrian have been transferred to seperate prisons.
  3. The president of the association recieved an administrative punishment for writing a complaint against the prison for theft of private property.
  4. Sofia Central Prison has started a standard practice of arbitrarialy giving collective punishments to entire wings and dorms. Ironically the draconian policy of collective punishments is uniting prisoners as opposed to the director’s intention of creating tensions between prisoners.
  5. 2 hunger striking prisoners from Varna prison have been hospitalised and are still refusing to accept an IV.
  6. There are reports of hunger strikes and other peacefull protests beaking out all over Bulgaria. Generally the demands are all the same, a reform of the parol laws making parol a right, meaning that prison administrations and judges have to prove a violation to deny parol instead of the current law that does not make parol a right and therefore the prisons and courts are not required to justify denials of parols.

The Bulgarian Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Association congratulates and encourages the protests from prisoners calling for seriouse, solid and fast changes to the backward bulgarian prison laws. 3 years and the government has not reformed the law governing prisons, especially for parol.

The association challenges Diana Kovacheva, the minister for justice, to make serious reforms instead of appearing on TV with prisoners who work for the prison. We challenge you to engage in real dialouge with the association that represents the wills of prisoners. Diana Kovacheva stop making TV propaganda and start reforms of your prisons.