The Framework of Criminal Law
Legislation on Bias-motivated Violence
|Bias-motivated Violent Crimes as Specific Offenses||Bias as an Express General Aggravating Factor||Bias as an Aggravating Factor in Specific Common Crimes|
Bias Types Covered by Provisions on Aggravating Circumstances
|Race/National Origin/Ethnicity||Religion||Sexual Orientation||Gender||Disability||Other|
The Criminal Code of Bulgaria does not contain general provisions that expressly enable the racist or other bias motives of the offender to be taken into account by the courts as an aggravating circumstance when sentencing. According to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), however, “the Bulgarian authorities draw attention to the fact that Article 54(1) provides that judges are to take into account the motives and aggravating circumstances of a crime when making sentencing decisions. Although this article does not specifically mention racist motivation, a judge may make use of it in order to take such a motivation into account and thus hand down a more severe penalty.”
Bias-motivated Violent Crimes as Specific Offenses
In Chapter 3 of the Criminal Code, “Crimes against the rights of citizens,” there are several articles that deal with bias-motivated violence as a specific offense. Article 162(2) punishes those “who apply violence against another or damages his property because of his nationality, race, religion, or political conviction” by imprisonment of up to three years and by public reprobation.
Article 163(1) punishes “those persons who participate in a crowd for attack on groups of the population, individual citizens or their property in connection with their national or racial belonging” in which case the instigators and leaders face a punishment of imprisonment of up to five years, while other participants face punishment of up to one year imprisonment or corrective labor. Article 163(2) extends to cases in which “the crowd or some of the participants are armed” in which case the instigators and leaders face a punishment of imprisonment of one to six years, while other participants face punishment of up to three years. Article 163(3) extends to cases in which “an attack is carried out and as a result of it a serious bodily harm or death has followed” in which case the instigators and leaders face a punishment of imprisonment of three to fifteen years, while other participants face punishment of imprisonment of up to five years.
According to a report by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), these provisions are generally not enforced, and, according to official statistics, no charges have been brought under these provisions in the last ten years.
 ECRI, “Third Report on Bulgaria,” adopted on June 27, 2003 and made public on January 27, 2004,” para. 14.
 Criminal Code of the Republic of Bulgaria, Chapter 3: Crime against the rights of citizens: http://www.legislationline.org/upload/legislations/d7/8d/c1519b43d701a2f3976b312d2993.pdf.
 Slavka Kukova, “Legal Study on Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation, report on Bulgaria,” Paragraph 62, March 2008, http://fra.europa.eu/fra/material/pub/comparativestudy/FRA-hdgso-NR_BG.pdf