LCRI appeals for the immediate release of Arevik

Arevik, a 22-year-old Armenian national pregnant in her third month, is currently coercively “accommodated” in the Special Centre for Temporary Accommodation of Foreigners in Busmantsi, Sofia. Arevik has been detained in order to execute an order for her deportation. The order has been issued after the girl overstayed her tourist visa, on which she arrived in Bulgaria to be with her boyfriend David. David is formally a national of Armenia. However, for the duration of 18 years by now, since he was six-years old, David has been living with his family in Bulgaria. Despite his deep integration in the Bulgarian society, David has no identity documents and, accordingly, his status is one of an “illegal” immigrant. Arevik remained together with David in Bulgaria since without documents he cannot travel outside the country. They cannot get married for the same reason.

At the date of Arevik’s coercive “accommodation” in the Special Centre for Temporary Accommodation of Foreigners in Busmantsi on 9 March 2010, her deportation order was formally in accordance with the technical provisions of the Law on Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria. However, in detention Arevik found out that she was pregnant. On the basis of this new circumstance she applied for humanitarian protection in Bulgaria to preserve the integrity of her family with David (pursuant to Arevik’s deportation order, she is banned from entering Bulgaria for a period of five years). The State Agency for Refugees registered Arevik’s application for humanitarian protection on 30 March 2010. From this moment on, ex lege the actions for her deportation should be suspended. In spite of this, the authorities continue to keep Arevik in detention with a view to deport her. Arevik’s detention since 30 March 2010 is unlawful. The legal arguments substantiating the unlawfulness of her detention as presented by the lawyer Valeria Ilareva can be found here

Two broadcastings on the Bulgarian National Radio covered the case of Arevik and David [in Bulgarian language]: on 24 March 2010 and 15 April 2010.

You can read more on the case and on the civil society support for Arevik and David here [in Bulgarian language].


April 21, 2010 at 7:43 am 1 comment

The Strasbourg Court found violations by Bulgarian authorities in another expulsion case

Judgment by the European Court of Human Rights of 11 February 2010 on the case of Raza v. Bulgaria

There is an increasing number of cases, in which Bulgaria is condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for abuse of power in expulsion of foreigners from the country. This tendency, which was pointed out by LCRI and its partners at a press conference on 01 February 2010, is confirmed by the most recent judgment in Strasbourg.

The Pakistani citizen Ali Raza and the Bulgarian citizen Zoya Raza are married in Bulgaria since the year 2000. On 6 December 2005 the National Security Service at the Ministry of the Interior issued an order for expulsion against Mr. Raza and a ten-years ban to enter Bulgaria on the ground that he constituted a serious threat to the national security. The order did not state the factual reasons for reaching that conclusion. Mr. Raza was not served a copy of the order and he came to know about it only after his detention for expulsion. From 30 December 2005 till 15 July 2008 Mr. Raza was coercively accommodated’, firstly in the ‘Home for temporary accommodation of adults’ in the ‘Drujba’ neighbourhood in Sofia , and after the inauguration of the new center in the Busmanci neighbourhood, he was moved to the ‘Special home for temporary accommodation of foreigners’. Although the Sofia City Court issued a decision for Mr. Raza’s release in view of the protracted length of his detention, the Supreme Administrative Court repealed the decision of the Sofia court and ruled that the orders for ‘coercive accommodation’ were not subject to judicial control.

After the ‘coercive accommodation’ of Mr. Raza was substituted by an order for his daily appearance for signature at the local police station, in August 2008 he submitted an application before the State Agency for National Security to review his expulsion. However his application was rejected on the ground that the expulsion order was already in force.  His removal from Bulgaria is only temporarily halted for technical reasons – lack of documents for his re-entry into Pakistan.

At the beginning of 2008 the family turned for legal aid to the Legal Clinic for Refugees and Immigrants (LCRI), which – after exhausting all domestic remedies – helped them to make an application before the Strasbourg court (Application №31465 of 28 June 2008).

In its Judgment of 11 February 2010 the European Court of Human Rights unanimously held:

1) If Mr. Raza is expelled, this will constitute a violation of the right to respect for family life, enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

The Court reaches the conclusion that – as in the case of C.G. v. Bulgaria – Mr. Raza “did not enjoy the minimum degree of protection against arbitrariness on the part of the authorities” in issuing his expulsion order and the resulting interference with his family life was not in accordance with a “law” satisfying the requirements of the Convention (para.55 of the judgment);

2) There has been a violation of the right to an effective remedy, enshrined in Article 13 of the ECHR;

3) In relation to the ‘coercive accommodation’ of Mr. Raza:

– there has been a violation of the right to liberty under Article 5, Para. 1 of the ECHR

The Court reiterates that the immigration detention under Art.5, Para 1 „f” of the ECHR is lawful only if “action is being taken with a view to deportation”. In the case of Mr. Raza’s detention that continued for over two years and a half, the ‘coercive accommodation’ had ceased to serve its lawful purpose, because  the Bulgarian authorities failed to conduct the expulsion proceedings with due diligence – their actions were limited to sending three letters to the Consular section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking for assistance.  Furthermore, the successful implementation of the more lenient measure of periodic appearance at the local police station after Mr. Raza’s release “shows that the authorities had at their disposal measures other than the applicant’s protracted detention to secure the enforcement of the order for his expulsion.” (paras.72-75 of the judgment)

– there has been a violation of the right to speedy judicial review of the detention according to Article 5, Para.4 of the ECHR.


Congratulations to the attorney Diana Daskalova and the students from LCRI on their successful work on the case and Thank You to all human rights defenders who – also with their actions prior to this judgment – enhance the establishment of the rule of law in Bulgaria!

February 13, 2010 at 2:24 pm

The Bousmantsi Triangle

Sofia Echo, Petar Kostadinov, The Bousmantsi Triangle, 26.02.2010

February 12, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Said Kadzoev has been released from the Busmantsi detention centre

On 03 December 2009 Said Kadzoev was released from immigration detention. He was detained since 21 October 2006 for the purpose of his deportation. The release of Mr. Kadzoev is the result of the application of the obligatory interpretation of EC law given by the Court of the European Union in relation to his case.

December 3, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Said Kadzoev and immigrants in the EU mark a victory with today’s judgment in Luxembourg

30.11.2009 – The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has issued its judgment in Case C-357/09 PPU on the first reference for a preliminary ruling on the EC Return Directive . The reference was made by a Bulgarian court in the national case reviewing Said Kadzoev’s  prolonged detention. An asylum-seeker who is a torture survivor, Said Kadzoev has been in immigration detention in Bulgaria since October 2006 to date. The Legal Clinic for Refugees and Immigrants has been providing free legal aid to Said since January 2007 and has given publicity to the human rights violations in his case, including unlimited solitary confinement in the Busmanci detention centre.

The interpretation of the EC Return Directive proposed by the Bulgarian judge would have led to an extension of the 18-months limited period of detention pending removal and introduction of exceptions to the time limit. Fortunately, the European Court of Justice affirmed the right to liberty of third country nationals in the European Union and ruled a judgment which application shall lead to Said Kadzoev’s immediate release from detention.

The Sofia Echo, European Court orders Bousmantsi detainee’s release, 02 December 2009

December 1, 2009 at 12:57 am

European Voluntary Service

The Legal Clinic for Refugees and Immigrants is pleased to announce that it has become an accredited organization and is thus entitled to apply for projects under Action 2 – European Voluntary Service of the Youth in Action programme. Our accredidation reference number is 2009-BG-16.
For the short period since being awarded our accreditation we have received a big number of potential volunteers’ queries from all over Europe. We are glad and encouraged to see that our mission and ideas provoke such an enthusiastic response.
We are preparing a couple of projects to be submitted by the 1st of February 2010 deadline. This means that our first EVS volunteers could arrive in Sofia, Bulgaria, on the 1st of May 2010.
The LCRI team is looking forward to working with them.

December 1, 2009 at 12:56 am

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