Detained applicants have the right to legal aid. However, legal aid has not been provided to detainees, including asylum seekers in detention centres, as of the end of 2019 due to National Legal Aid Bureau’s budget constraints, despite a pilot project financed by AMIF which provided legal aid to vulnerable asylum seekers for the first time in Bulgaria (see Regular Procedure).
In its 2019 report, the CPT highlighted that legal assistance is left entirely to various NGOs whose representatives visit both detention centres and assist detained individuals pro bono in their immigration and asylum procedures, including for access to courts. In this context, the CPT reiterated its recommendation that the system of legal aid run by the National Legal Aid Bureau should be extended to detained foreign nationals in all phases of the detention procedure; whereas for destitute foreign nationals these services should be provided free of charge.
Whilst legal aid is provided for appeals under the state budget, access to the courts to lodge such an appeal turns heavily on the provision of legal assistance by NGO providers in the absence of legal aid outside court procedures. This impacts most negatively on asylum seekers who have been detained in closed centre where only the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee has granted access. Consequently, effective access to legal assistance during the procedure for these applicants is completely negated.
There is also a lack of state-funded legal assistance for children detained in closed facilities to challenge the detention order, despite the general child protection legislation which envisaging the right of all children to such an assistance. As the LARB does not envisage the appointment of guardians to unaccompanied or separated children, and since according to Bulgarian law children can only undertake legal actions through or with the consent of their guardians, they cannot challenge their detention order unless provided tailored legal support to submit an appeal without it.
 Article 22(9) Law on Legal Aid.
 CPT, 2019 Bulgaria report, July 2019, para 41.
 Article 15(8) Law on Child Protection.