On 11 August, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed serious concern that virtually all people entering Bulgaria in an “irregular manner” are subjected to detention, and that they could be prosecuted and even jailed if they try to leave, “placing many of them in an invidious Catch-22 situation.”
“This means that people who do not qualify under the strict definition of a refugee, but still have legitimate reasons for being unable to return to their home country, have hardly any avenues open to them,” said High Commissioner Zeid, in a news release issued by his Office (OHCHR).
“This is clearly inhumane and unacceptable,” he added.
The High Commissioner’s statement comes as OHCHR staff concluded the second of two visits to the country in the past eight months, revealing a number of disturbing policies and practices relating to migrants and refugees, as well as degrading conditions at some migrant detention facilities.
Mr. Zeid said he was particularly concerned about the reported disregard for due process and fair trial guarantees on a number of fronts in the Svilengrad Regional Court, where many of the criminal prosecutions for irregular border crossings take place.