Over 500 Bulgarians Become Trafficking Victims A YearCrime | June 29, 2015, Monday // 14:50| views
Meglena Kuneva, Deputy Prime Minister for European Policies Coordination and Institutional Affairs, photo by BGNES
Some 500-550 Bulgarians a year become victims of human trafficking, according to official statistics, as cited by Kamelia Dimitrova, Secretary of Bulgaria’s National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings.
Dimitrova took part in a press conference on the occasion of the launch of a project aimed at fighting human trafficking.
The project is financed under the Norwegian Financial Mechanism and will be carried out by the European Institute Foundation.
The project envisages the training of a large number of officials from the law enforcement and security institutions and courts.
The training aims to acquaint people involved in the fight against human trafficking with concrete aspects of the problem.
During Monday’s press conference it was announced that human trafficking revenues stood at EUR 32 B a year, according to reports of the BGNES news agency.
In the period 2010-2013 some 30 000 people in the EU admitted that they had become trafficking victims.
80% of the human trafficking victims were women, the majority of them aged 18+.
Meglena Kuneva, Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister for European Policies Coordination and Institutional Affairs, called for joint activities against human trafficking.
She reminded that human trafficking had been classified as cross-border crime and therefore required joint efforts on the part of Bulgaria and all other EU countries.
Kuneva drew attention to the fact that a large number of human traffickers were handed suspended sentences, adding that this was one of the reasons for victims giving up on reporting the case to the police.
She admitted that it was hard to gather evidence and initiate pre-trial proceedings in such cases precisely due to the fact that they constituted cross-border offences.
To illustrate Kuneva’s point, it was announced that in 2014 a total of 92 people had been convicted of human trafficking and 60% of the cases had ended with suspended sentences.
The most common profile of the trafficking victim was said to be a young woman from a region characterized by high unemployment and poverty.
Kuneva said that the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen Area was not supposed to be underestimated.
She underscored that Bulgaria and Romania had technically been condemned to be second-class countries for no good reason and that this was a misguided policy.
Stressing the substantial effort of Bulgarian authorities that went into this goal, Kuneva claimed that the negative impact of not allowing Bulgaria to join Schengen affected Europe’s security system as a whole.
She commented that the project was aimed at strengthening cooperation between Bulgarian officials and their counterparts in Schengen member states.
Kuneva emphasized that the aid was crucial for Bulgaria at this particular moment and that it would allow other countries too to boost prevention and awareness levels.
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