Tech & Rights

Bulgarian Caretaker Government Repeals Regulation on Refugee Integration

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee says the repeal of the regulation on the integration of refugees is illegitimate, immoral and a threat to national security.

by Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
During an extraordinary meeting on March 31, 2017, the caretaker government fulfilled the election promise of newly elected Bulgarian President Rumen Radev and repealed Decree 208 of August 12, 2016, of the Council of Ministers, to adopt the Ordinance on terms and conditions for conclusion, implementation and termination of the agreement for integration of foreigners granted asylum or international protection.
The repeal is an act that violates Bulgaria’s international commitments and obligations on asylum.

First and foremost, the unambiguous and direct intervention of the president in the executive powers is unconstitutional. According to the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, the president has specific representative functions, and the determination of state policy in any area is not among them.

The president has no right to put direct management or rule-making tasks on any government, including the one officially appointed by him.

On the other hand, it raises the question of the international consequences for the government's obedience, following the decision of the caretaker government of Prime Minister Ognyan Gerdzhikov to fulfill the president's orders.

Unsound arguments

Despite the numerous and perfectly reasonable objections made by some of the members of the government, the government went ahead with the repeal, thereby violating its international obligations on asylum and, in particular, the commitments made to the European Commission and the EU, from which state has received significant financial resources and assistance for integration efforts.

The arguments for repealing the ordinance are that it doesn't suit some municipalities and settlements, where it created tension in the intake of refugees, but these arguments are unsound. Instead of taking sanctions against officials who violated the legal rights of refugees with completely regular status, the government violated the rights of refugees.

The reasons for the lack of a coordinating unit and the unclear criteria that determines the refugees who are subject to integration, are even more conflicting, especially when the ordinance is carefully analyzed. It was adopted after a wide institutional and public debate, and it is unlikely anything similar will happen by the end of the week when the deadline for the adoption of a new ordinance replacing the repealed one is due.

Illegal and immoral

The quality of this new ordinance is also in question, because hardly anyone believes that a meaningful normative act can be made in just a few days. Nor is it expected that the creation of policy is part of the mandate of a caretaker government.

The failure to provide minimal help for the refugees in order to integrate them into our society as active citizens, despite EU financial support, is not only illegal and immoral but also clearly foolish from every point of view.

It only leads to their eventual marginalization, isolation and encapsulation in closed societies, which is a prerequisite for radicalization.