According to the expat group «Bulgarian Diaspora and Friends», Norwegian tax money is invested in the prisons of Bulgaria via the Norwegian Financial Mechanism – in partnership with the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice. Norway Today has decided to publish their press release, dated April 26th, 2019, regarding an ongoing hunger strike. This hunger strike is related to corruption and abuse of power.
We [Bulgarian Diaspora and Friends] are Bulgarian immigrants in the U.S. and Europe who are well aware of the problems in the Bulgarian prison system. We declare solidarity with the hunger strike of Jock Palfreeman, which commenced on April 21, 2019, in Kazichene, a site of Sofia prison.
The hunger strike of Palfreeman, Chairman of the Board of Bulgarian Prisoner’s Rehabilitation Association (BPRA), is a desperate protest against the problems with corruption and abuse of power in Sofia prison. BPRA gave publicity about these problems a year ago, in relation to the cases of escapes from Sofia prison.
In addition to Sofia Prison, BPRA gives regular publicity on the conditions in other prisons and the correctional system in Bulgaria as a whole: inhumane living conditions, violence by prison guards, and repressions against members and supporters of BPRA, the only organization in the country for the direct representation of the rights of prisoners, current and former.
Problems in Bulgarian prisons persist despite years of effort and investment of millions of Euros in renovations and reforms, from Bulgarian authorities and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism. Up till now, the Norwegian Financial Mechanism has invested more than seven million Euros. At this moment, the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice is working on the implementation of the new program of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism (2014-2021) which has allocated 30 million Euros for justice reform, most of which is designated for prisons.
Bulgarian prisons at the moment are under the management of the VMRO party through the Deputy Minister of Justice Prodanov. For a year now, the Bulgarian media has been covering corruption scandals around the VMRO party – sale of Bulgarian citizenship, the “apartmentgate” scandal, etc. For one year now, we have also been observing an active personal battle of Deputy Minister Prodanov with Palfreeman and BPRA.
We insist that Deputy Minister Prodanov and Chief of Staff of Sofia Prison Traykov stop repressions of Palfreeman and BPRA! We appeal to Bulgarian and international journalists to pay urgent attention to the hunger strike of Palfreeman! We alert the Norwegian Financial Mechanism about corruption problems within their project partner, General Directorate “Execution of Sentences” (GDES) at the Ministry of Justice under the leadership of Deputy Minister Prodanov.
You can express solidarity with the hunger strike of Palfreeman to the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice, via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or via regular mail: Ministry of Justice, Slavyanska Street #1, Sofia 1040, Bulgaria.
This press release is issued by Bulgarian Diaspora and Friends