Bulgaria: UN Human Rights Office concerned about attack on human rights defender

The UN Human Rights Regional Office for Europe expresses its serious concern at the attack against Krassimir Kanev, the chairman of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) in the morning of 27 October. Mr. Kanev was attacked by unknown men in Sofia, allegedly in retaliation for his human rights work. BHC has been working actively to protect and advance human rights in Bulgaria, and Mr. Kanev has been a strong advocate for the rights of people in vulnerable situations, including Roma, Muslims, refugees, migrants and LGBT communities.

© Sanja StefanovikjAccording to information received, since 2014 there has been a climate of rising intolerance, and a sharp increase in threats and insults against BHC staff due to their work in defence of human rights.

The UN Human Rights Regional Office for Europe calls upon the Bulgarian authorities to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation of the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice, and to step up efforts to ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders in Bulgaria.

In March 2016, the UN Human Rights Council strongly condemned reprisals and violence against human rights defenders, and called upon States to combat impunity and take all necessary measures to ensure the rights and safety of human rights defenders. It also recognized the importance of human rights defenders and civil society actors in promoting, protecting and realizing all human rights.

The UN Human Rights Regional Office for Europe takes note of statements from the Ministry of Interior and from the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria in relation to this incident, and will be closely following developments.

For more information or media inquiries, please contact:

Jakhonghir Azizkhodjaev +41 22 928 9358 / jazizkhodjaev@ohchr.org or Dima Yared: +32 2 274 0174 / dyared@ohchr.org or Ravina Shamdasani: +41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org

31 October 2016

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