Bulgarian civil society demands action against hate campaigns

In a letter addressed to six EU Commissioners, over 60 Bulgarian civil society organisations call on representatives of EU institutions to call out attack against civil society organisations. They urge the EU institutional leaders to urge the Bulgarian government to protect civic space and act against hate campaigns questioning the need for civil society organisations.

In the latest of a series of aggressive attacks conducted by informal movements on social media, the Social Services Act is being tarnished to prevent it from entering into force. The progressive law, developed after almost 10 years of discussions, services, including reforms for deinstitutionalisation, provided by organisations that receive support from the EEA Financial Mechanism. 

False claims have been published across social media to bring the law into disrepute and thereby, target the civil society organisations providing much needed services. The false claims used include suggestions that CSOs advocate on behalf of foreign interests; that CSOs will destruct Bulgarian families and take away children. This is far from the ambitions of organisations working to end use of institutions and to prevent children being separated from families. 

The attack campaigns also have a clear anti-EU feature, as they target provisions in the Social Service Act which allow EU-based providers to deliver services in Bulgaria. 

Similar attacks in the past two years have seen the Bulgarian government refusing to support the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence; freezing the adoption of the National Child Strategy and denying access to schools for CSOs implementing school-related projects. 

The letter, dated 15 January 2020, was signed by a range of Bulgarian civil society organisations, including children’s rights organisations like National Network for Children (a national partner network of Eurochild), SOS Children’s Villages Bulgaria Association, Hope and Homes for Children Bulgaria and Lumos, among others. 

Eurochild supports this letter and urges action from EU institutions and the Bulgarian government to discuss concerns of the civil society, protect civic space and reaffirm core EU values. 

Read the full letter here