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news 16 Aug 11

Bulgarian Ruling Party Proposes Limits on Surveillance

Politicians from Bulgaria's ruling centre-right party, GERB, plan to table legal amendments restricting the use of special surveillance devices.

Novinite, Trud

A special working group consisting of GERB MPs, experts from Bulgaria's Interior Ministry and the Council of Ministers have said that the proposals will be given a priority review after the Parliament's summer recess, according to a report in the Bulgarian daily Trud.

At present, the use of special surveillance devices, SRS, is only used if other methods for gathering evidence listed under the Bulgarian Criminal Procedure Code cannot be applied to help identify perpetrators of grave crimes punishable by over five years of imprisonment.

GERB also plans to propose an amendment stipulating that a judge can request the materials from the pre-trial proceedings and from the investigation involving classified national security information before authorizing the use of SRS.

The aim is to give magistrates an opportunity to make more informed decisions before deciding whether or not to grant permission for the use of SRS.
Citizens are also to be allowed to notify the responsible parliamentary subcommittee if they suspect their communications are being tapped. If the authorities find evidence of unauthorized use of special surveillance devices, the citizens will be informed of the situation so that they can seek redress in court.

In another draft amendment to the Special Surveillance Devices Act, the Secretary General of the Interior Ministry will take over responsibility for issuing permits for the use of SRS. At present, the permits are approved by the Interior Minister.

The Secretary General of the Interior Ministry is the highest-ranking civil servant within the structure and is also the official in charge of monitoring operative investigation activities and receiving reports of the results of SRS use.

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