There has been a slight improvement in the conditions at Bulgarian prisons and psychiatric hospitals, but more needs to be done, reports the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) of the Council of Europe.

According to the CPT’s report, staff in these institutions is still inadequate and the conditions in psychiatric hospitals are inhuman and degrading. Last year, European Commission officials visited police stations, penitentiary facilities and psychiatric establishments.

As reported by the Sofia news agency Novinite, the report noted improvement in the conditions at detention centres, but it is also included complaints of physical violence. It added that the recommendations for providing detainees with access to a lawyer and a doctor have not been applied.

What is more, corruption remains a serious problem, and prison staff is at the root of imported illegal items, the report said.

During an inspection at Radnevo, for instance, psychiatrists found numerous complaints of threats and physical violence against the sick. The Bulgarian authorities have been called to take urgent measures to fill the shortage of employees in this and similar other institutions in the country, reported Novinite.

“The CPT cannot escape the sober conclusion that residents in the social care establishments visited had de facto been abandoned by the State, which had manifestly totally failed to provide those vulnerable persons with the human contact, comfort, care and assistance they required, as well as the dignity they deserved. It is equally regrettable that staff (and the management) of these establishments had been left to struggle from day to day with totally insufficient human resources, without adequate funding and without any attention or support from the Bulgarian authorities.”