Church of Scientology International Sponsors Workshop On Human Rights In Bulgaria
May 16, 2006
Brussels — With Bulgaria’s January 2007 entry into the European Union approaching, this week’s "Government & Religion" workshop, hosted by the Brussels-based Church of Scientology International European Public Affairs and Human Rights Office, concentrated on what is needed for Bulgaria to comply with European human rights standards.
In joining the EU, Bulgaria is expected to raise social standards to the level of other member nations. Prime among the concerns about Bulgaria have been the independence of its justice system and organized crime and corruption in the country. However, there are also human rights issues which must be addressed, such as freedom of expression, religious freedom, discrimination against national and ethnic minorities, and conditions in prisons and other institutions. These issues were the focus of this conference.
Mr. Krassimir Kanev, Chairman of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, opened the workshop with a presentation titled Human Rights in Bulgaria in the eve of the EU Accession. Mr. Kanev, who is also a member of the Executive Committee of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, gave examples of human rights violations in Bulgaria. He stated that the process of accession to the European Union has contributed to some improvements, but stressed that the condition of patients in Bulgarian mental health institution remains an urgent problem to address, with reports of harsh conditions and arbitrary enforced commitment.
Mr. Petar Gramatikov, Member of the Board of the Help the Needy Foundation and Archdeacon of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, presented a paper titled What difference does the United Nations and the European Union make in my Country and Region? which addressed human rights and religious freedom in the country. As part of this, he urged the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to revitalize inter-church relations and renew its membership in the World Council of Churches.
Co-organized by the Church of Scientology International and the European Foundation for Human Rights and Tolerance, this was the second in a series of workshops on the relationship between government and religion in Europe, and was attended by representatives of European institutions and Brussels-based diplomats from European and non-European countries concerned about safeguarding human rights and religious liberty in the European Union.
For more information visit: Church of Scientology European Office for Public Affairs & Human Rights