The eyes of the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Association turn to Pleven Prison. The BPA has received horrifying information from Pleven Prison; it has become apparent that there is daily and systematic torture of prisoners. Crimes committed by not only the guards but also the medical staff who have participated in the crimes by covering them up.
We have detailed reports of times, places and names of the victims and the criminals. The most common place of torture is of course where there are no cameras, in 2 cells next to the office for the day Commanding Officer.
This was also the case in Sofia Prison before the Committee for the Prevention of Torture wrote that to prevent the prison staff from committing crimes cameras needed to be installed in similar rooms used for torturing people in Sofia Prison. One such instance in 2013, which became infamous in Sofia Prison, was when cameras filmed 2 prisoners being put in a cell followed by many guards and then the prisoners had to be carried out. No guards were convicted of the torture. The Commanding Officer was however subsequently fired. Now the same crimes are being committed by the staff in Pleven Prison, with prisoners being tortured almost daily.
In one instance a prisoner was beaten by guards in Pleven Prison on the 19th October 2021 at his place of work at around 10:30am. He subsequently went to the Commanding Officer to complain about the crime, but the Commanding officer instead of logging the crime committed by his subordinates, gave a verbal order to torture the prisoner and so at about 12:00 noon, he was tortured in an attempt to silence him.
On the 20th October 2021, he went to get a medical report and have his injuries logged according to the law Article 119e (Fullfilment of Prison Law), they refused to log them in the “injuries book” – a book to document the wounded prisoners who have been criminally assaulted and tortured at the hands of staff and according to the law, a law that was introduced after heavy criticisms from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture from the Council of Europe, when the CPT took an exceptional measure to make a “Public Statement” the official tool of the CPT to condemn systematic failures to stop torture by the Bulgarian state.
Although the crimes committed by the prison staff, the guards and the medical staff are by far the most grievous of problems in Pleven Prison, it has also come to light that prisoners only have water in their cells from 20:00 to 22:00 meaning that prisoners are unable to flush the toilets, drink water or wash their hands.
The Bulgarian Prisoners Associations calls on the Committee for the Prevention of Torture to immediately pay attention to the violations of even the most basic of human rights in Pleven Prison and calls on the Ministry of Justice to immediately install cameras in the cells used for torture and guarantee that prisoners are not taken into the office of the Commanding Officer, unless there are cameras there too.
We call on the CPT to investigate why prisoners do not have access to showers daily and we call on the Ministry of Justice to immediately guarantee that prisoners have access to showers daily and access to water in their cells according to the minimum legal requirements according to Article 20 paragraph (3) (Fulfillment of Prison Law) “Prisoners should be guaranteed continuous access to a (toilet) and running water. In closed facilities and remand prison, (toilets) and running water is in the cells (where prisoners sleep).”
We call on the CPT to investigate why workers in Pleven Prison do not have time in the exercise yard according to basic rights and practices in prisons and even according to the most elementary laws according to the Bulgarian laws for prisons (ЗИНЗС), we call on the Ministry of Justice to immediately take action to guarantee that workers in Pleven Prison have their legally required access to yard time according to article 86 Paragraph (1) Subsection 1, “Prisoners have the right to, not less than 1 hour a day in an open area”
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