Case of Jock Palfreeman in context of Norwegian taxpayer money invested in human rights and rule of law in Bulgaria
October 10, 2019, Bulgarian Diaspora and Friends (BDF), New York — Press Release, For Immediate Release
Norway has invested millions of euro of taxpayer money in the last 10 years in the Bulgarian Justice and Home Affairs system, for the upholding of the rule of law and human rights, in line with EU standards. This is done via the Norwegian Financial Mechanism/EEA grants. They constitute the major financial contribution of Norway to the EU, especially to its poorer members, of which Bulgaria is at the top of the list.
Two Bulgarian Ministries are current recipients of Norwegian funds for projects on rule of law and human rights via the 2014-2021 Norwegian funding cycle: Bulgarian Ministry of Justice (30 million euro) and Bulgarian Ministry of Home Affairs (21.5 million euro). These same Bulgarian Ministries are currently actively and openly engaged in a case of human rights abuse, known internationally, regarding the unlawful detention in Bulgaria of Jock Palfreeman, foreign national, Australian, ex-prisoner.
Palfreeman is also the chair of the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Association for Rehabilitation (BPRA), the only registered NGO in Bulgaria for the defense of the rights of prisoners in the country, current and former.
Palfreeman was released from Bulgarian prison on parole by the Bulgarian Court of Appeals with judgment of September 19, 2019. Since then, Palfreeman has been held in detention on conflicting, unjustifiable grounds by the Bulgarian Ministry of Home Affairs, with support from the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice, at a detention center for foreigners in Busmanzi, Sofia. The case resembles state kidnapping. International media coverage on the case is abundant, international human rights organizations have made statements.
Perpetrators in the kidnapping of Palfreeman, Bulgarian Ministry of Home Affairs and Bulgarian Ministry of Justice, are Norwegian partners on the acquisition of millions of euro of Norwegian taxpayer money for the upholding of human rights in Bulgaria. Is the Norwegian government going to take a stance, given its long-term monetary investment and its principle commitment to the rule of law and human rights in Bulgaria, in line with EU standards?