Animus Association has analyzed how the rights of trafficked persons are respected and promoted in Bulgaria. Despite increasing awareness that trafficking and the exploitation of human beings through forced labour or in slavery-like conditions constitute severe human rights violations, states tend to focus on the prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators, while the protection of the rights of trafficked persons lags behind. Often victims are purely seen as an instrument for the prosecution with little regard for the far-reaching impact testifying against their exploiters may have on their current and future wellbeing and long-term safety.
This report has been written as part of the 3-year project “Promotion of the Rights of Trafficked Persons in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia with Emphasis on Legal Support – A Human Rights-Based Approach”. It provides a legal analysis of the position of trafficked persons in criminal and other relevant proceedings and their treatment by the judicial system, in particular their access to legal aid and the protection of their rights as victims and witnesses, including access to compensation. It contains an analysis of the legal provisions pertaining to the position of victim/witness of trafficking and their implementation in practice, based on the experiences of the partner NGOs and information from interviews with victims. Attention is also paid to the national definition of trafficking and its implementation, in particular whether it offers equal protection without discrimination to all possible victims, including sex workers and victims of trafficking and exploitation for other purposes than prostitution.