Strasbourg/Bulgaria: Third evaluation report by GRETA published and presented to the European Council on access to justice and the effective long-term support for victims of human trafficking in Bulgaria.

GRETA:

  • The Group of Experts on Action against Human Trafficking in Human Beings (est. 2008)
  • Monitors the implementation of the European Convention Article 36 on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by parties

Focus of report:

  • Access to justice and effective remedies for victims of trafficking
  • Assessment of developments since GRETA’s second evaluation report published in January 2016

Positive developments implemented by Bulgarian authorities:

  • Amendments to the Law on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings
  • Adoption of first National Strategy against human trafficking for period 2017-2021
  • Re-opening of two NGO-run specialized shelters for victims of trafficking
  • Opening of specialized crisis center for child victims of trafficking
  • Commends the updating and formalization of the National Referral Mechanism

Issues raised:

  • Gaps in the identification of foreign victims of trafficking
  • Lack of effective intermediation by Bulgarian authorities of victims and their access to justice
  • Difficult procedures for victims to access compensation, which remains sporadic at best 
  • A significant number of suspended penalties upon conviction for human trafficking

Recommendations:

  • In order to provide effective compensation Bulgarian authorities should:
    • Improve criminal investigation of individual cases
    • Set up compensation fund
  • More effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions needed with trafficking offences
  • In order to strengthen economic and social inclusion, victims of human trafficking should receive vocational training and job placement from Bulgarian authorities
  • For more effective handling of foreign victims of human trafficking:
    • A need for budgetary allocation for more effective implementation of the National Referral Mechanism in order to fully asses the risks of trafficking or re-trafficking on return of forced removals

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