Any kind of witness protection legislation/policy/practice in Bulgaria, particularly for individuals who have provided information leading to the arrest of officials, including members of parliament, on corruption-related charges; whether the witnesses in the case of parliamentary deputy Tsvetelin Kanchev were harmed in any way [BGR35957.E]

An article entitled "The Implementation of the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice on Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power in Bulgaria," which was published in April 2000 in The Victimologist, the official members´ journal of the World Society of Victimology in Germany, states that:

Protection of the witnesses during the criminal proceedings has recently been introduced. According to Art. 97a of the Criminal Procedure Code, "the bodies of the preliminary proceedings or the reporting judge shall, upon request or with the consent of the witness, take measures for his/her protection, should there be sufficient grounds to presume that due to the testimony there has arisen or may arise real danger to the life, health or the property of the witness, his relatives of ascending or descending line, brothers, sisters or spouse". The protection shall be provided by means of keeping his/her identity secret (so called anonymous witness) and providing guards. The legislator considers that the witness will be motivated to testify when he/she does not risk becoming the next victim. The next step for the government is to provide funding and elaboration of the programs for the protection of the witnesses and persons having collaborated with the judiciary.

A section on Witness Protection in the Bulgarian Criminal Procedure of a March 2000 article entitled "Legal Study on the Combat of Trafficking in Women for the Purpose of Forced Prostitution in Bulgaria," published on the Human Rights Without Borders Website states that:

In 1997, the institute of the protection of the witness was introduced in the Criminal Procedure Code. The provision was further developed in 1999.
The forms of protection of the witness in Section 97 a, are as follows:
1. keeping the personality of the witness in full confidence
2. providing sufficient safeguard for the witness

The system of protecting the witness is applied:

when there are sufficient grounds to expect that due to witnessing a real danger has arose or could arise for the life, the health or the property of the witness or of her or his relatives, brothers, sisters, husband or wife, other persons of close relation.
The initiative for the implementation of the system belongs either to the witness or with his or hers consent to the magistrates and or investigation structures. The imposed measures for protection of the witness shall be cancelled only when there is a request to this effect from the witness or when the circumstances that caused the implementation of the protection are not existent any more.
The decision whether to apply the system or to terminate it lays within the authority of the relevant court or investigating body. Until now no criteria is defined to be followed by the investigation or the court system in order to apply or not to apply the system of protection. The code requires that the relevant body motivates in righting the necessity to implement the measures for protection.
We admit that it is necessary to introduce criteria on the basis of which the estimation and judgement could be found whether to apply or not to apply the protection of the witness. The practice shows that following circumstances have a decisive role: nature and level of the risk for the witness, for society and the court, the severity of the crime, the importance of the witness' evidence for the investigation of the crime, the effectiveness of the protection measures.

The means by which the witness is kept anonymous are:

The interrogation protocols are not signed by the witness, but she has to be immediately presented to the offender and his lawyer. All questions to the witness shall be posed in writing. Personal data of the witness is kept secret. The witness is mentioned in the files through an identification number.
The witness is interrogated by the investigation bodies and by the court in full secrecy. The witness is not called to court but represented by the prosecutor in charge of the case.
In addition, the Criminal Procedure Code forbids the confrontation of the witness under protection with the defendant.

Along with the article of protection of the witness, the code introduces section 99 a which says:

The indictment and the sentence cannot be founded only on the evidence given by a witness whose personality is kept in secret.
This provision is a logical consequence of the requirements of Art. 6 of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms that states that the defendant: the right to participate in the interrogation of the witness and
2. the right to insist that the witnesses of the prosecution are called to the Court and interrogated at the same terms and conditions as his witnesses. (Filipova March 2000)
No reports of intimidation, treats or harm directed against witnesses in the Tsvetelin Kanchev trial could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

However, a report on human rights in Bulgaria prepared for 1999 by the Sofia-based Bulgarian Helsinki Committee stated that:

Serious doubts of political pressure on the judiciary were voiced in several cases during the year, including when the Euroleft MP Tsvetelin Kanchev, who is also the Chairman of the Roma association Euro-Roma, was deprived of his immunity and charges were brought against him.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. 2000. Human Rights in Bulgaria in 1999. [Accessed 30 Nov. 2000]

Filipova, Rossitza Pencheva. March 2000. "Legal Study on the Combat of Trafficking in Women for the Purpose of Forced Prostitution in Bulgaria." Human Rights Without Borders (HRWB) [Accessed 30 Nov. 2000]

The Victimologist [Mönchengladbach, Germany]. April 2000. Vol. 3, No. 2. Dr. Dobrinka Chankova. "The Implementation of the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice on Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power in Bulgaria." World Society of Victimology. [Accessed 30 Nov. 2000]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases


Internet sources including:

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)

World News Connection (WNC)

Oral Sources:

One oral source could not provided the requested information within the research time limits.