Updated on 9 November 2020
Visits from friends and family to prisoners are temporarily suspended.
The heads of the territorial services will establish an organisation for control of the entrance of the prison / arrest regarding:
Only persons with a protective face mask or other means covering the nose and mouth (including a towel, scarf, helmet) should be allowed in the prison / detention center; For each visitor of the prison/detention center there will be conducted obligatory thermometry and provided hand sanitiser.
Before and after each visit the premises should be disinfected.
Мeetings of prisoners/ detainees with their relatives via “Skype” videoconferences will be preceded.
Bulgarian prisons and detention centers are still open for visits. All visitors must respect the anti-epidemical rules, wearing a face mask and conduct obligatory thermometry. Only the prison’s hospitals and prisons groups, in which the inmates are under quarantine for 14 days, are closed for visits. There are no others restrictions for visits in prisons and detention centers. A virtual visit via Skype is an option for the inmates and detainees
Personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, personal protective equipment (PPE), and protective glasses) and disinfectants are provided for staff with direct contact with inmates and medical specialists;
Access to updated information materials as flyers, brochures and leaflets is provided for prisoners/detainees.
Information boards in a visible places or other methods will be used to inform the visitors of the prison / detention center about:
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee is organizing the conduction of focus groups in the prison in the town of Belene. The focus groups are aimed at informing the staff and the inmates about the Covid-19 infection, the ways of spreading and prevention measures.
From the beginning of the state of emergency in Bulgarian prison and detention centers TV crew (reporters and cameras) are not allowed to enter the prison facilities.
In Bulgaria all the restrictions for the prisoners such as temporary denying prison leaves, temporary suspension for prison visits and the limitation of activities and instructions for maintenance of good sanitary hygienic condition and frequent ventilation of the air in all premises, regular disinfection of the surface are based on an order from the Ministry of Health for prevention of infection diseases.
In Bulgaria there are no legislation changes for providing the prison service with a legal basis to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic.
General Directorate Execution of Sentences (GDES) provides measures and instructions in the prisons, probation services and detention centers according to orders from Ministry of the Health and the Ministry of the Justice. Bellow you will find the imposed current measures in Bulgarian prison facilities by GDES.
General Directorate Execution of Sentences has taken protocols which are based on orders from Ministry of Justice and Ministry of the Health in order to deal with the Covid-19. The protocols consist of measures and detailed described procedures which are sent to the prison facilities. The current measures, imposed in Bulgarian prisons and detention centers are as follow:
General prevention measures in prisons and detention centers – maintenance of good sanitary hygienic condition and frequent ventilation of the air in all premises and regular disinfection of the surfaces.
Prisons staff According to the instructions, which have been sent to all prisons and detention centers, all the prison staff with direct contact with the inmates are obligated to wear personal protective equipment. In the protocols the procedures with prison staff members, tested positive on Covid-19 or have being in a touch with someone who is infected, are detailed described.
New arrivals are subject of medical examination and monitoring. All new arrivals are obligated to fill in a questionnaire regarding their health condition and questions about being in a contact with someone, tested positive on Covid-19, if known. When an inmate shows symptoms, compatible with COVID-19, the medical staff in the prison is organizing a testing at referent laboratory. Until the results come out, the inmate has to be isolated. All inmates who have been in a contact with the potential infected inmate are isolated. In case that the inmate is tested negative on Covid-19, the isolation is terminated and the inmate is placed under medical supervision for 14 days. An inmate who is tested positive on Covid-19 is isolated and the medical treatment is according to his health conditions and symptoms.
In case of complicated infection, the prison chief could prepare a proposal to the prosecutor about suspension of the execution of the sentence because of medical reason.
For any further questions regarding the procedures in the state of emergency taken by the General Directorate Execution of Sentences of Bulgaria please contact the following:
Nadya Radkovska (Head of Department)
Angel Topkarov (Senior inspector in unit “International co-operation”)
Supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union