Journalists denied entry to Bulgaria

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

His Excellency Evgueni Stefanov Stoytchev, Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria
325 Stewart Street
Ottawa, ON K1N 6K5

May 3, 2011

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is concerned by the refusal of Bulgarian border authorities to allow Macedonian journalists from Skjope to enter the country. Last month on April 17, 2011, journalists from TV Sonce, Kanal 5 and the daily Dnevnik were all denied entry when attempting to cover a local event in the village of Melnik.

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) reported that the journalists from Dnevnik were turned away at the border after explaining their intentions. They were asked to turn over their passports, which were held until the journalists signed documents indicating that they lacked proper permission to cover the event.

Journalists from Kanal 5 and TV Sonce had applied in advance for media accreditation to cover the event. Kanal 5 journalists were told there was insufficient time to process their application, after they had provided all the necessary information. TV Sonce journalists, who had previously been denied entry into Bulgaria on May 5, 2010, applied well in advance for their accreditation. They received an official reply from the Bulgarian Embassy stating that their application had been denied, with no explanation given.

CJFE urges the Bulgarian authorities to thoroughly investigate why these journalists were not allowed to enter Bulgaria, and to ensure that all members of the media are allowed to report freely in Bulgaria.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Mr. Philippe Beaulne, Ambassador to Romania, Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova;
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada