site.btaOSCE, Council of Europe Call on Bulgaria to Urgently Strengthen Prevention, Response to Human Trafficking
OSCE Special Representative Valiant Richey and the Executive Secretary to the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) Petya Nestorova called on Bulgaria to take urgent measures to strengthen its prevention and response to trafficking in human beings, the Council of Europe said in a Tuesday press release.
At joint meetings with the National Commission to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings and the Bulgarian Parliament, the OSCE and Council of Europe officials shared the findings from the Special Representative's country visit and GRETA's third evaluation report. They urged Bulgaria to take action in several key areas, such as strengthening co-ordination of anti-trafficking efforts, adopting a new anti-trafficking strategy, and ensuring victims' access to justice.
OSCE Special Representative Richey highlighted the pressing need to prioritize and invest in anti-trafficking efforts, including by raising the profile of the issue within government and pursuing more ambitious policy action, including on technology-facilitated trafficking in Bulgaria.
"As one of the key countries of origin for human trafficking in Europe, Bulgaria needs a robust strategy with a focus on prevention and bringing traffickers to justice," he said.
Petya Nestorova, Executive Secretary of the Council of Europe's anti-trafficking expert group, GRETA, highlighted the need for increased political attention to the issue and adequate budgetary funding, which would ensure the sustainability of anti-trafficking measures and the administration of shelters. "The latest recommendations made by GRETA to Bulgaria focus on guaranteeing access to justice for victims of trafficking. This requires making compensation effectively accessible to victims, and supporting their economic and social inclusion," she said.
The OSCE Special Representative conducts multiple country visits each year to support OSCE participating States in addressing human trafficking, share recommendations for further action, and collect best practices for fighting this heinous crime. Richey's report following his 2021 country visits was published in 2022.
The Council of Europe anti-trafficking expert group, GRETA, monitors the implementation of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by the 48 states that have ratified it. GRETA has evaluated Bulgaria's action against human trafficking three times (in 2011, 2015, and 2019). The latest GRETA report on Bulgaria was published in April 2021, the press release recalled.