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«January 2020»

Fellow Seminar

06 June 2019

Dr. Alexey Pamporov will present his research proposal on the topic: "Socio-Legal Study of Asylum Refusals in Bulgaria" on 6 June 2019 (Thursday) at 16:30h at CAS conference hall.


The right of a foreigner to apply for an asylum protection is set in the 98 article, paragraph 10 of the Bulgarian Constitution of 1991, but it was regulated already in article 84 of the Communist constitution in 1947 (i.e. before the International Convention on the Refugees, 1951). Since 2002, The Law on Asylum and Refugees entered into force in Bulgaria, which defines the asylum status as a very particular case of international protection, although the EU regulations and statistics defines the Asylum applicant much broadly as "a person having submitted an application for international protection or having been included in such application as a family member". The legal textbooks and handbooks in Bulgaria use to take the law regulation as granted and do not problematize the discrepancies in the conceptual understanding, since otherwise a Constitutional amendment will be needed or a repeal of significant part of the Law on Asylum and Refugees.

However, for the period 2002-2017 there were about 329 asylum requests of which only one was granted in 2013 but it was taken away in 2015. Therefore, despite the increase of the international migration towards Bulgaria, there is no increase of the persons with Asylum statute or, in other words, there is not a single foreign citizen who was able to obtain an Asylum statute in Bulgaria, since the Law in 2002 was introduced and Asylum committee was established. In 2014, the Amnesty international issued a statement, which said: "Bulgaria is still widely ‘missing the mark' when it comes to its treatment of refugees and asylum seekers". It became absolutely obvious that something is wrong in the application of the international protection regulations in Bulgaria, when a group of Fethullah Gülen followers announced public request for protection in 2016 but in the meantime there were extradited to Turkey within 24 hours, which for sure put their lives in danger, since their religious view is considered a criminal or terrorist act there.

The study aims at probing for various possible reasons, which may impact the final decisions. A preliminary list of such reasons includes:
• legal reasons - lack of legal basis (with two sub-hypotheses: in line with the international legislation or due to discrepancies);
• bureaucratic reasons - incorrectly completed application by the asylum seeker or its attorney or lack of a formal request, as expected by the law since 2002
• prejudices towards certain migrant populations - Muslims, Arabs, persons of African descent and thus considering them as a "danger "and "unwanted";
• lack of expert knowledge about the current situation in the region - for example, not aware about the prosecutions of Hizmet followers and Alevi members in Turkey; refugee in-camp conflicts between Palestinians and Syrians
• state security reasons - criminal or terrorist profile of the applicants (reported to the Asylum committee by The State Agency for National Security or by the Border police)
• other reasons (which may appear during the data gathering and analysis)

The main goal of the study is to find out what needs to be done, where is the systematic problem with the asylum status in Bulgaria, and later on, to make a recommendations for further development of the normative codification and elaboration of the legal procedure to the relevant stakeholders and decision makers.

Alexey Pamporov is Associate Professor in Sociology (since 2014), with more than 10 years of experience in leading policy research for a civil society teams, and with more than 20 years of experience in qualitative data gathering methods. He holds PhD degree in Sociology (2005) and MA degree in Cultural Studies (2001). He has specialized Qualitative Methods in Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (2003-2005) and Advanced Teaching Methods in Central European University (2006). A current member of the Asylum Committee at the President of the Republic of Bulgaria (since 2017), he has been a project manager of the Swiss-Bulgarian Cooperation on identification and long-terms assistance of children and adults victims of trafficking in human beings project at the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (August 2016 - February 2018).


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