The Ombudsman acting as NPM
The Ombudsman's main activity as a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) is focused on places where persons are deprived of their liberty or where persons are detained or accommodated as a result of an act or with the consent of a state body, which places these people cannot leave voluntarily. The annual monitoring activity of the NPM includes the places for serving the sentence "imprisonment" at the Ministry of Justice, the places for detention of persons in the structures of the Ministry of Interior, the Special Centers for temporary accommodation of foreigners at the Migration Directorate as well as the Registration and Reception Centers of the State Agency for Refugees under the Council of Ministers, the residential social services for children and adults, the state psychiatric hospitals and the pedagogical boarding schools in Bulgaria. For some of these groups of people affected, the Ombudsman's monitoring is the only form of independent control over the observance of their rights.
The Ombudsman's functions as a National Preventive Mechanism are related to the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and the amendments to the Ombudsman Act of 2012. In 2022, the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) at the Ombudsman institution celebrated its 10th anniversary.
The Ombudsman acting as a national preventive mechanism, fulfills his/her mission by conducting continuous and independent monitoring of places of detention, identifying potential risks of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. This mission is also realized through the public announcement of cases in which there are violations of human rights.
During this ten-year period, the Ombudsman carried out more than 700 inspections of places of imprisonment, state psychiatric hospitals and mental health centers, detention centers for refugees and migrants, detention centers and family accommodation centers. type for children and adults, in social and pedagogical boarding schools and educational schools. And this means so many public reports on the identified irregularities and three times more recommendations to the responsible institutions, to the executive and the legislature.
Many of the findings were further monitored in several special reports of the Ombudsman – such like the Assessment Report of the Problems Faced by Refugees and Migrants in the Republic of Bulgaria (2013), the Assesment Report on the Respect for the rights of Children Placed in Social and Pedagogical Boarding Schools in the Republic of Bulgaria (2015), Assessment Report on the State of the Rights of Unaccompanied Refugee Children Seeking or Receiving protection (2016), ), Assessment Report on Health Care for Adults with Mental Illness (2018), etc.