PRESS RELEASE: May 10, 2019 — New York
Jock Palfreeman, chairperson of the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Association for Rehabilitation (BPRA), commenced the hunger strike on April 21, 2019 in protest of corruption and abuse of power in Sofia prison. Palfreeman declared the strike after experiencing two years of repressions of BPRA and himself as chairperson, coming directly from the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice and via their subordinates, the Sofia prison administration.
During the strike, repressions of Palfreeman have continued. They culminated in the creation of a life-endangering situation for a person in a vulnerable health state, as during the hunger strike Palfreeman was placed for medical observation in one of the units of Sofia prison hospital, not any, but the Infectious Disease Unit.
Since the beginning of the strike, Bulgarian Diaspora and Friends – New York has addressed the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice with accountability questions on the case, multiple times. We have also written to the Norwegian government, which currently partners with the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice on a 30 million euro grant for bringing the Bulgarian prison system “in line with international human rights standards”.
The Norwegian government has recently responded to our questions on the case by saying that “It is the government of Bulgaria that is responsible for the administration and running of all correctional facilities in Bulgaria”. So far, we have not heard a word from the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice.
The hunger strike of Palfreeman against corruption and abuse of power continues. We continue too, by addressing EU government institutions and civil society organizations working on human rights and rule of law in the Union, of which Bulgaria is a member state.
Bulgarian Diaspora and Friends, New York