U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Bulgaria
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||11 June 2003|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Bulgaria, 11 June 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d7ba22.html [accessed 16 March 2014]|
Bulgaria (Tier 2)
Bulgaria is a source and transit country, and to a lesser but increasing extent, a destination country for the purposes of trafficking in women and girls for sexual exploitation. Bulgarian victims are trafficked to fifteen countries across Western, Southern and Eastern Europe, as well as to South Africa. Women and girls of the Roma minority are disproportionately represented among Bulgarian-origin victims. Victims are trafficked to Bulgaria from Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Russia and the Caucasus countries. Traffickers use threats of or actual violence, false imprisonment, rape, and withholding of documents and earnings to ensure victim compliance. Risk factors for Bulgarian victims of trafficking include poverty, under-education and lack of employment, particularly among the Roma. The Government of Bulgaria does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The GOB passed anti-trafficking legislation in the past year, and showed some improvements in international law enforcement cooperation. However, overall improvements from the previous year were limited.
While the government did not fund prevention programs, it instituted a specialized module on trafficking prevention in the Schools' Liaison Program of the National Police and members of the government's Interagency Task Force on Trafficking participated in training activities organized by foreign governments and international organizations. The government conducted some initiatives to improve education and job opportunities for the Roma – a particularly vulnerable group. While not trafficking-specific, such initiatives could prevent further vulnerability.
Parliament recently passed amendments to the Criminal Code penalizing trafficking in persons and prescribing penalties from one to 10 years in prison, plus fines. The government Task Force on Trafficking arrested approximately 40 individuals, freed over 200 women and girls, but there were no reports of any convictions as the government has no mechanism for collecting conviction data once a case is passed to the prosecutor. Additionally, because of Bulgaria's weak judicial system and cumbersome criminal procedure code, trafficking cases were not successfully completed. The government cooperates with other countries on trafficking and concluded bilateral agreements on law enforcement with all bordering countries except Serbia and Montenegro. The government conducted joint operations with The Netherlands, Czech Republic, France, Germany and Italy, it has on-going cooperation with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Romania, and participates in regional law enforcement initiatives such as the Southeastern Cooperative Initiative (SECI). The government does not yet offer specialized investigative anti-trafficking training, though some NGOs offered training at the National Police Academy. Two regional prosecutors work with the Interagency Task Force on Trafficking. Low wages, inadequate resources and government corruption at many levels are significant obstacles. Methods for investigating corruption or misconduct in the police ranks are ineffective.
The Interagency Task Force on Trafficking works closely with international and non-governmental organizations when victims are rescued, but the government provides no victim assistance. Victims are not provided temporary or permanent residence status, or relief from deportation. Victims are not jailed or prosecuted for prostitution or individual immigration law violations. However, they are deported if they do not cooperate with the police or refuse voluntary NGO-assisted repatriation. The government has a law on implementation of witness protection, but it is rarely used and few in law enforcement know of the law's existence. Victim restitution programs do not exist and given the relative inefficiency of the judicial system, civil lawsuits are not considered an effective recourse. The government is expanding the number of Bulgarian liaison officers in Western Europe, but there is no specialized anti-trafficking training for consular officers abroad.