Update to Response to Information Request BGR28727.E of 9 February 1998 on the Church of the Word of Life [BGR28903.E]

On the activities of the Church of the Word of Life in Bulgaria and on whether the Church is officially recognized and registered, a representative of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee in Sofia stated in a 19 February E-Mail to the Research Directorate that:

The Church had never been officially recognized as a church by the Bulgarian Government. It was registered initially as a non-profit organization with the Sofia City Court, but following legislative amendments in 1994, the organization was banned by the Government.

According to this legislative amendments organizations with religious activities need to have prior authorization by the Government to be registered with the courts. The Government refused to grant such authorization to Word of Life.

On the attitude of the authorities and the population in general toward the members of this church, the representative stated that:

The attitude of both authorities and the media, and as a result of the population to WoL is extremely negative. There have been numerous cases of illegal searches and seizures, police interference with religious meetings. The Helsinki Committee is aware of a number of labour discrimination cases. There was a significant number of defamatory publications in the media. As a result of the actions of the authorities and the media the church had significantly diminished in size and activities.

On the legal recourses available the Church of the Word of Life and its members against state "persecution and discrimination", the representative stated that:

Word of Life members had tried to defend their rights in court, but so far such efforts had not been successful. There were defamation suits against newspapers, actions for damages for illegal searches and seizures and labour discrimination law suits. It is the view of the BHC that prejudice had plaid [sic] a significant role in the final outcome of such litigation.

In a 11 February 1998 E-Mail sent to the Research Directorate, a Pastor of the Church of the Word of Life in Bulgaria stated that:

Every person who's [sic] right has been violated has the right to appeal through court. But unfortunately every court's decision is negative and it takes years until the procedure finishes.

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.


Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Sofia. 19 February 1998. E-Mail from representative.

Church of the Word of Life, Sofia. 11 February 1998. E-Mail from a pastor.