National Strategy for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings 2017-2021

Trafficking in human beings is a serious crime against the individual, often committed in the framework of organised crime, and is considered a gross violation of fundamental human rights, explicitly prohibited by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Under the Bulgarian Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Act (2003), trafficking of persons is defined as „the recruitment, transportation, transfer, concealment or acceptance of human beings, regardless of their own will (…) for the purpose of exploitation“. The current National Strategy for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings 2017-2021 is a major policy document that sets out the priorities and objectives related to the effective and long-term response both to the crime itself and its consequences.It’s goals and priorities are in line with both those outlined in the EU Strategy on the Elimination of Human Trafficking 2012-2016 and the objectives and priorities outlined in the overall European legislation.

In the long-term, the National Strategy aims to create a comprehensive human trafficking policy that regulates the type and system of measures to achieve operational, effective and efficient interaction and coordination at both a horizontal and vertical level between all agencies, institutions and organisations, including the civilian sector, involved in working on this issue. As such, the National Strategy outlines leading challenges; key principles; national priorities, objectives and measures to combat trafficking in human beings; as well as implementation and monitoring strategies.

The main challenges faced in the effort to combat the trafficking of human beings, and as outlined in the National Strategy include:
– Challenges related to the dynamic profile of victims of trafficking, their timely identification (formal & informal), and the provision of comprehensive and relevant assistance and support to their needs;
– Challenges related to enhancing the efficiency, effectiveness and scope of prevention activities and practices at an instituional and interinstitutional level, aimed at preventing trafficking and re-trafficking of persons;
– Challenges related to the knowledge of the crime of trafficking of persons and conducting effective, yet victim-friendly, investigations, prosecution and punishment;
– Challenges related to the migration crisis.

Legality & maintaining the rule of law in observing fundamental human rights;
Relevance, effectiveness, and efficiency in measures;
Partnership, interaction, and the sharing of responsibility between all stakeholders;
Sustainability of the achieved goals and their long-term impact;
Transparency & accountability;
Non-discrimination and equality between all victims.

– Active community prevention with a focus on vulnerable groups;
– Enhanced identification, protection, assistance and support to victims of trafficking, regardless of their ethnic, national, religious and/or gender affiliations;
– Effective prosecution and punishment of the crime of trafficking in human beings;
– Enhanced inter-ministerial and international coordination and cooperation;
– Immediate, competent and responsive action to the needs of the children victims of trafficking.

– Formulate effective mechanisms for countering trafficking in human beings, which are based on the analysis of actual and empirical evidence of the crime;
– Preventing trafficking both at the individual level and at the level of family, social group, and society;
– Creating trust in citizens, society, institutions and organisations (including NGOs) working on the issue, and stimulating civic activity in countering the trafficking of persons;
– Strenghtening the legal and institutional mechanisms for the effective and efficient prosecution and conviction of organisors, perpetrators and collaborators of the crime;
– Effective prosecution and punishment through the use of EU mechanisms and structures for international judicial and law enforcement cooperation;
– Ensuring timely and tailored to the individual needs of victims of trafficking, and providing support and protection;
– Ensuring the possibility of subsequent reintegration and full social funcioning of the victims;
– Creating a system of procedures guaranteeing the identification, assistance and support of victims.

To a large extent, the measures to be achieved are directly linked to the challenges faced, and therefore include matters such as measures to effectively identify victims, directly counter trafficking through cooperation on an institutional and interinstitutional level, and victim-friendly investigations and prosecution of the crime.

The implementation of the National Strategy is carried out through the annual National Anti-Trafficking and Protection Program, which has been developed on the basis of the key priorities and objectives of the Strategy and offers solutions for the implementation of the planned measures, taking into account new realities and trends in the human trafficking offense. The annual program is prepared by the Secretariat of the NCCTHB with the Secretariat Permanent Working Group at expert level, and is adopted at a meeting of the NCCTHB followed by approval by the Council of Ministers. Through its administration, the NCCTHB periodically reports to various European and international units/committees on the anti-trafficking policy, strategic and operational activities implemented by the Republic of Bulgaria.

The purpose of monitoring is to provide key information on the progress made by the competent authorities responsible for the implementation and monitoring of relevant policies. Periodic monitoring of the implementation of the National Strategy is carried out by the Secretariat of the NCCTHB and the established Permanent Working Group of experts. The final evaluation includes the following elements:
1. Indicators for strategy purposes
1.1 Significance of objectives
1.2 Goal effectiveness
2. Indicators of measures
2.1 Efficiency of the measures
2.2 Impact of the measures
2.3 Resistance to measures
3. Lessons learned
3.1 Risk management recommendations
3.2 Recommendations for effective and sustainable implementation of the Strategy
3.3 Recommendations for future goals and measures

The full text of the National Anti-Trafficking Strategy 2017-2021 can be downloaded in Bulgarian with the link below:

Пълния текст на Националната стратегия за борба с трафика на хора 2017-2021, можете да свалите от тук.