Worldwide, trafficking in human beings is recognised as a serious violation of human rights. Human trafficking impairs the honour and dignity of the victims and, in some cases, their right to life. As a form of organised crime, trafficking in human beings undermines the basic principles of the law order and the democratic standards of society. The transnational character of the phenomenon requires the joint efforts of all institutions working against human trafficking at national, regional and international level.

In this relation, the government of the Republic of Bulgaria presents the National Programme for Prevention and Counteraction of Trafficking in Human Beings and Protection of the Victims for 2011, which is adopted as part of the implementation of the Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Act. The National Programme corresponds to the international standards and obligations of the Republic of Bulgaria regarding its membership in the European Union.

The National Programme is developed by the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (NCCTHB) with the Councils of Ministers and the expert support of the Permanent Working Group with the Commission.

The main objective of the National Programme for 2011 for prevention and combating trafficking of human beings is the expansion of prevention activities among adolescents and their parents and teachers and also among ethnic minorities to prevent human trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation and child trafficking. The document was approved at today’s cabinet meeting after it was adopted in February by the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (NCCTHB) and agreed by all involved in this work departments and institutions.

With regards to prevention, the programme focuses on raising the awareness of the public and the groups at risk on the issues of trafficking and the development of mechanisms to limit it. The programme proposes the establishment of a network of volunteers at the national and the local committees to support the work in combating trafficking and assisting the victims. The programme sets a goal to include prominent Roma leaders in the process of combating human trafficking among the Roma community.

Specialized training of the employees of the local commissions for combating trafficking in human beings, the magistrates and the officials of the Ministry of Interior and the National Security Agency are envisaged for building and strengthening the capacity of institutions working on the problem. Especially important in this regard is the training of officials at border checkpoints for methods of identifying victims.

The NCCTHB will open two new local commissions for combating trafficking in human beings in Ruse and Plovdiv with funds from the budget, projects and programs. In Sofia, the Commission is working on the launch of a state shelter for temporary accommodation of victims of trafficking.

The centers for protection will continue to provide medical and psychological assistance to the victims of trafficking. The victims of trafficking will be included in appropriate forms of education and training. The programme envisages the establishment of a work group which will prepare a mechanism for the development of a package of social services for social reintegration of the victims of trafficking.

The programme also contains proposals for legislative changes aimed primarily at supporting the victims.