Trafficking in Persons Report


Bulgaria is a transit country and, to a lesser extent, a country of origin and destination for young women and girls trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Bulgarian citizens are also internally trafficked for sexual exploitation. Victims are primarily trafficked from Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Russia, and Central Asia through Bulgaria into Western, Southern, and Eastern Europe. Roma children continue to be disproportionately represented among victims.

The Government of Bulgaria does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In 2004, the government adopted a more active role in prevention and protection, stepped up its enforcement efforts, and took important preliminary steps to implement its anti-trafficking legislation, including the adoption of a national strategy and passage of comprehensive victim witness protection legislation. However, the government should take concrete measures to build victim protection capacity by ensuring that the local-level anti-trafficking commissions are established and supported. Moreover, it should ensure the consolidation of comprehensive trafficking data to segregate alien smuggling and human trafficking statistics. In 2004, the Government of Bulgaria commendably expanded an anti-corruption campaign and heightened its focus on high-level corruption; however, it should proactively demonstrate the will to counter all trafficking-related complicity through vigorous prosecutions and convictions.


In 2004, Bulgaria made considerable progress in implementing its 2003 anti-trafficking legislation, with an increase in convictions and indictments for trafficking-related offenses. The government reported seven convictions and 27 indictments for suspected trafficking cases under the new trafficking provisions of the criminal code. During the reporting period, the National Investigation Service developed a methodology for investigating trafficking cases, which was also distributed to police. Further, the government reported almost 900 sentences in 2004 for trafficking-related offenses, including forced prostitution, inducement to prostitution, and people smuggling. While high-level government officials publicly spoke out against trafficking and there is no evidence of government involvement in trafficking on an institutional level, there have been reports of law enforcement officials’ involvement in trafficking-related corruption. Notably, the Prosecution Service and the Military Prosecution Service in 2004 made a number of anti-corruption indictments resulting in over 100 convictions for official malfeasance.


In November 2004, the Government of Bulgaria adopted witness protection legislation that includes coverage for victims of trafficking. This legislation will provide special protection measures for victims and their families who are cooperating with investigations and prosecutions of traffickers. The Bulgarian government also created a special provision that allows for residency and employment of trafficking victims while they participate in criminal proceedings. The government reported one instance of the use of these protections. The Ministry of Interior reportedly identified and assisted 474 victims of trafficking in 2004.


In February 2005, the Bulgarian Government adopted a National Anti-Trafficking Strategy and dedicated funding to support the work of the National Anti-Trafficking Commission. Notably, the commission subsequently appointed a secretary general to manage the day-to-day implementation of the national strategy. The government continued its strong cooperation with NGOs to conduct prevention and awareness programs for law enforcement personnel, as well as a new program for consular officers posted at Bulgarian embassies abroad. The government sustained its prevention efforts aimed at vulnerable groups, including providing street children with educational and psychological services by placing them in protective custody.

(Excerpt from the Trafficking in Persons Report, Bulgarian Section)