The project HEAR: Hearing Entails Awareness and Rights aims to promote the application of the right to be heard of detained immigrants by raising understanding, awareness and knowledge in this area. The HEAR Project is implemented by the Foundation for Access to Rights (FAR), a Bulgarian non-governmental organisation, in the period September 2015 – September 2016.

Within the project framework, FAR’s senior attorney conducted thirty in-depth interviews with detained immigrants in Bulgaria, documenting the practices relating to the application of the right to be heard in the context of detention on immigration grounds. The multidisciplinary project team conducted an analysis of the gathered evidence and studied in detail the recognised standards and settled case-law relating to the right to be heard in light of international, European Union and national law.

On this basis we have drawn up a Handbook (action algorithm) on the effective exercise of the right of immigration detainees to be heard and an Analytical Report on Bulgaria, in which administrative and judicial practices, on the one hand, and the perception of detained immigrants, on the other hand, cross at different points. The Handbook and the Analytical Report on Bulgaria are interlinked and logically lead up to the third part of the study, which comprises a collection of Individual Case Studies. In the latter we have set out and analysed ten cases of detained immigrants interviewed under the project that reveal either systemic problems or good (promising) practices in the exercise of the right to be heard and the ensuing implications for justice and fairness. These three deliverables of the HEAR project comprise the book on the Right of Immigration Detainees to be Heard, published in Bulgarian and English languages.

Besides evidence collection, one of the objectives of the project HEAR was restoring justice in the individual cases of interviewed immigrants through legal aid. In this regard, we filed and conducted lawsuits of strategic importance.

The HEAR project results are presented in the thematic website, as well as through a series of events: a seminar involving judges from the administrative courts in Bulgaria, a press conference with the media, meetings with MPs, representatives of the Ministry of Interior and the Ombudsman, etc.

Author and leader of the HEAR project is Valeria Ilareva. The expert team of the project includes Valeria Ilareva, Denitsa Georgieva (lawyer), Maria Shisheva (International Relations expert), Mimoza Dimitrova (psychoanalyst) and Svetla Encheva (sociologist).

As co-authors of the project HEAR results we view also the detained immigrants whose testimonies are directly involved in our publications. We thank them for their trust!

We are grateful to the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) without whose financial assistance this project would not have become a reality. The sole responsibility for the content of all publications lies with FAR.