A training on the role of media and journalists in the fight against human trafficking was held in Plovdiv

On the occasion of 30 July - International Day for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Plovdiv Municipality and the Local Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings held a training for journalists, PRs and representatives of institutions on the topic "The role of media and journalists in combating trafficking in human beings".

The event took place on 28 July at the Imperial Hotel, Plovdiv. The event was held on 28th of July in Plovdiv. The event was attended by journalists, prosecutors and PR specialists from the police, court, prosecutor's office, municipal and regional administration.

The main focus of the training was the crucial role of media and public communications in the prevention of human trafficking.

Specialists with high professional expertise, proven in their fields of work, were invited as guest speakers at the event. These were Ms. Antoaneta Vassileva,  First Vice President of the Group of Experts against Trafficking in Human Beings,  (GRETA) at the Council of Europe; Ms. Anna Nikolova, Manager of SOS-Families at Risk Foundation, Sofia Varna and manager of the state shelters for temporary accommodation of victims of trafficking in Varna and Sofia and Mr. Rosen Tsvetkov - investigative journalist and producer at "bTV".

Before the event started, Ms. Vassileva commented the following:

"I congratulate the Local Commission for Combating Human Trafficking and its chairman - Mr. Yordan Stavrev, Deputy Mayor for Public Order and Security at the Municipality of Plovdiv for the initiative. Raising awareness on the topic of human trafficking and developing skills in journalists and PR professionals are extremely important for the proper coverage of the topic and for raising public awareness. The crime of human trafficking is often confused with illegal migration and sexual exploitation is equated with prostitution. People need to know the difference and be aware of the risks - especially of labour exploitation in the summer months when we traditionally see a boom in seasonal work."

Ms. Vassileva then moved on to her presentation by outlining the nature of the crime of human trafficking. She introduced the audience to the groups at risk and the methods of impact, as well as the policies and strategies to counter human trafficking at the international and national level.

Ms Nikolova paid special attention to the issue of victims' participation in media broadcasts - sparing approaches when conducting an interview, measures to ensure the anonymity of the victims, the effect and impact of a first-person narrative, etc.

Last but not least, during the training, Mr. Tsvetkov analyzed the different approaches in conducting investigations and interviews on human trafficking, as well as the preparation for working with victims and perpetrators. In his words, journalists in Bulgaria need to work carefully and in-depth on the subject, gathering information on the ground and from as many sources as possible.

Human trafficking is a criminal and social problem with multiple dimensions. Achieving active prevention requires uniting the efforts of state institutions, and the non-governmental sector, including the media and journalists, to raise public awareness of the crime.