halil en blog


Halil is a 26 year old male, Kurd, a Syrian national, single, student.. He carries a Syrian ID Card, his military service record and a proof of attendance from his university. .

‘My dilemma was whether to stay on and finish my studies or stay alive. I have a cousin – he went to take his dentistry final , was kidnapped by the Islamic State and kept for 2 months. There is a complete lack of  safety in Syria. If you are Kurdish, they view you as a member of the PKK. People get murdered in Syria on account of their ethnic origin’.

He was detained at the Busmantsi Detention Centre[1] on the 4th of September 2015 and released on the 8th of January 2016. Duration of detention: 4 months and 4 days.


Halil tells us that a Bulgarian policeman caught him and his travelling companions while attempting to cross the Bulgarian-Serbian border and took their money and telephones. They later drove them to the Bulgarian border. Some time after, another police car came and took them to a police station.

‘The first 24 hours I was extremely worried. They questioned us, asked who had stopped us and taken our money and telephone and then let us go. I am really scared of the police and I told them everything’.


The Bulgarian authorities commence an investigation with Halil acting as a witness. He believes this is the reason why they had kept him so long at the Busmantsi Detention Centre.  From there he was once taken to the Sofia Central Prison where he was interviewed for three hours.


In am worried that they might extend the period of detention and drag out the process even more’.

Stress and the unknown while in detention have taken a heavy toll on Halil’s mental health.

‘I used to have nightmares even before. They’ve become worse here’.


At the meetings with Halil, his HEAR Project attorney notices that his hands are  shaking and that he is  extremely tense. Despite this, Halil  declines the suggestion to see a therapist.


‘I just want to get out of here. And not just get out of the prison here in Busmantsi, but from everything here’.


The orders issued against Halil contain  errors in the spelling of his name – the name had been written down by the policeman, before an Arabic translator at the police station. In his it is stated that that it has been issued in connection with existing barriers to his expulsion, notably that ‘the foreign national does not have sufficient funds to leave the country and in view of the continued armed conflict in his country of origin, which impedes its’ execution’. The order on Halil’s detention on immigration grounds was issued by the Head of the Kalotina Border Police Department and has the signature and personal details of a translator.. Despite this, Halil has not contested it.

With the help of a non-governmental organization, Halil files  an application for international protection on the third day of his detention. After that, however, SAR fail to take action with regards to  his case.   On the 27th of October 2015, acting through his HEAR Project attorney Halil files another application directly with the Registry of the SAR.. In response to his application filed then, the Head of the Head of the SAR Registration Centre in Ovcha Kupel replies, on the 11th of November 2015, that a handwritten request was annexed to the application, which was not accompanied by a translation into Bulgarian. ‘Having based your application on a request written in a foreign language, during the course of representing your client as per the annexed power of attorney, you should ensure that the application is accompanied by a legalised translation in Bulgarian’. On the 17th of November 2015, Halil files a lawsuit against the failure of the SAR to act in accordance to this case. By its ruling on case No 11445/2015 the 42nd panel of the Sofia Administrative Court demands that  the Head of the SAR ‘to register and open a case-file for Mr. Halil (…) and provide him with accommodation at one of its Regional Reception Centres, taking the necessary steps that he be  issued with a registration card’. In the meantime, Halil is  registered by the SAR on the 26th of November 2015 and released from the Detention Centre after 1 month and 14 days, on the 8th of January 2016.


During his detention Halil felt confused and stressed due to the lack of legal certainty.

‘I don’t feel safe here at all. Because this is a lawless place. Because I have been in detention  for three months , despite being the victim of a crime myself (…) Everyone sees Bulgaria as an obstacle which has to be overcome as quickly as possible.’


He does not know who interviewed him in Busmantsi. When asked who conducted the interviews, he recalls that approximately 2 weeks after he was detained, he was interviewed by ‘some people who work here’. When asked to share how he felt during the interview, Halil responds:

‘I just wanted to leave. I was nervous and stressed, because they asked me a lot of things about Syria, which I didn’t want to remember. They make me sad and I feel bad. I have been detained and this depresses me even more. I had no idea what the purpose of the interview is . I thought they were from the refugee camp, but people from the camp came and registered me  only on the 26th of November 2015’.


‘I have no rights. I have no idea what my case is. I know that I am here because I applied for asylum as a refugee. I thought that they would let me go after the interview. I even asked them when I would be able to go, and they told me that it was going to be soon.                 


The image has been used under licence from CC BY 2.0. Author: ciocci


Halil has different hypotheses for the reason for his prolonged detention and the obstacles to his registration as an asylum seeker.

People who speak languages are generally kept in longer, so they could use them as translators. I speak Kurdish, Arabic, and some English and Turkish.’


While in detention, Halil witnesses a special police force operation at the Busmantsi Detention Centre aimed at verifying and identifying inmates presenting a potential risk and the prevention and discontinuation of any illegal activity on the part of foreign nationals detained there. [2]. At the client – lawyer meeting, Halil shares  that they were forced to lie on the ground for two hours and have a  police dog sniff them.. He is bitter that during the operation they took his diary, which his best friend at Busmantsi (released just before that) had gifted him.



Despite being a  Syrian refugee, Halil is  detained for the purpose of expulsion for 4 months and 4 days — a period during which his access to the asylum system was blocked. Immigration detention cannot be lawfully used to ensure that a witness in a criminal investigation is available to the authorities for criminal lawsuits Immigration detention cannot be applied in order to supply an ample unpaid translator workforce. This begs the question of the legitimate goal of Halil’s detention after the third day, when he filed  an application for  subsidiary protection. The failure of the SAR to act on  his case by registering him as an asylum seeker is unlawful and the reply received by Halil’s lawyer that his application had to be translated into Bulgarian is yet another example of arbitrarily applied administrative rules.

This has culminated in the SAR ‘producing’ yet another traumatized individual (primarily due to the war and his escape)who has no trust in the hosting society.

Had Halil been courteously heard out at the time of administrative procedure preceding the issuance of the immigratory detention order he would  have been accommodated at an open refugee centre of the SAR as an asylum seeker.


Snippets from our conversations with Halil:

‘My relatives are  in Syria. I cannot talk to them. It saddens me. . I become livid. I prefer to forget, because there is nothing else I can do. My father has passed away, my mother is alone. I don’t want to worry her. She knows I am ok.’


[1] Special Home for the Temporary Accommodation of Foreign Nationals.

[2] According to the press release published by the MIA on 4 December 2015.