Expression

Although citizens benefit from strong free speech protections under Bulgarian law, declining respect for media freedom, amidst a shrinking pool of ownership and the interference of individuals with substantial economic and political influence, has raised concerns. Worryingly, physical attacks on journalists and interference with the operations of private media are on the rise. These dynamics are reflected in Bulgaria’s ranking on the World Press Freedom Index, which has fallen dramatically from 35th in 2006 to 106th in 2015. Criminal defamation is retained in Bulgaria’s laws, although the offence no longer carries a prison sentence. Fines are however higher when the target of the defamation is a public official, in contravention of established principles of European and international human rights law. Access to the Internet and social media is not restricted in Bulgaria, but, according to the International Telecommunications Union, almost half of the population were not using the Internet in 2014. While Bulgaria does have an access to information law, there have been some attempts to circumvent the law on grounds of national security.