Bulgaria adopts anti-terror law amid growing criticism
by Daily Sabah
IstanbulDec 16, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Dec 16, 2016 12:00 am
Bulgarian lawmakers passed on a final reading of anti-terror legislation that boosts the role of law enforcement and Bulgarian security officials in cases of a terror-related emergency amid criticism from human rights organizations. Human rights organizations criticized the measures, saying they carried dire implications for free expression and other human rights. Critics also said it is difficult to define when an anti-terror operation is needed.
Under the proposed bill, Bulgarian security and law-enforcement officers will be authorized to take the suspects into custody with the right to use force. Military personnel will be able to search the houses and cars, handle the evidence, and use weapons during operations. The security officials also have access to private properties and can use citizens' cars if necessary during an anti-terror operation.
The bill also boosts the role of security officials through enabling them to restrict movement, suspend access to the internet or seize documents from people suspected of preparing a terrorist act. Wiretapping suspects will be given up to three years, instead of the six-month period as the current law suggests.
The State Agency for National Security - Bulgaria's counter-intelligence agency - will be allowed to send undercover agents to prevent suspects from preparing or carrying out a terror attack. Bulgaria's armed forces will be authorized to intervene when a threat is detected or in the event of a terror act. Institutions such as schools will be obliged to develop and apply anti-terror measures.
"In addition, the military will be authorized to detain suspects until the arrival of police in case of a terror-related emergency. Other changes foresee a ban on registering more than 10 prepaid SIM cards per person. By restricting the actions of telecoms, lawmakers argue they pose obstacles for attack plotters, who normally use multiple cards while organizing terror activities," Sofia news agency reported.
Recent attacks in Europe have raised fears the Balkan country will be targeted. Several eastern European countries, including Poland and Hungary, have already approved anti-terrorism laws. Romania adopted similar plans.