The massive report, released last week, includes chapters on every nation in the world, including 43 pages on Bulgaria.
It calls out corruption in Bulgaria’s security services, noting that the government’s actions to “punish officials (there) and elsewhere who committed abuses... were insufficient.”
“While the government had mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption, implementation was inadequate, and impunity was a problem,” it said.
By congressional mandate, the State Department has produced the report, which assesses countries’ human rights practices, since the 1970s.
Corruption is a drag
“Corruption continued to be a drag on the government’s capabilities and undermined public and business confidence in the judiciary and other government institutions,” it said.
The report said Bulgaria’s judiciary is plagued by “pervasive problems” and that it suffers from “corruption, inefficiency, and a lack of accountability.”
“Public trust in the judicial system remained extremely low because of the perception that magistrates were susceptible to political pressure and rendered unequal justice,” it said.
The report didn’t comment on the 2016 elections, but said that the 2014 parliamentary elections complied “with fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and assembly.”
It added that they included “pervasive allegations of vote buying and the use of racist, xenophobic, and inflammatory rhetoric throughout the election campaign. “
“Rumor and Slander”
The report addressed press freedom, citing a survey by the Association of European Journalists Bulgaria (AEJ) that said a “‘culture of pressure’ was steadily restricting media in the country.”
According to AEJ, “72 percent of journalists witnessed their colleagues being subjected to pressure, 67 percent stated that politicians significantly interfered with their work, 54 percent were personally prevented from freely exercising their profession, 43 percent admitted to pressure from the government and local institutions, and 41 percent were the targets of rumor spreading and slander.”