The crisis of a legal framework: Protection of victims of human trafficking in the Bulgarian legislation
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article
The Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings reported that in Bulgaria no adult victim of human trafficking received any assistance and that no adult victim was granted a reflection period. A close examination of the Bulgarian legislative framework could explain this unpromising picture. In this article, I develop three arguments in relation to the Bulgarian legislation on protection of trafficked persons. First, in some respects, Bulgaria has failed to fulfil its international obligations. Second, the national legal framework regulating the conditions under which trafficked person are assisted and protected is surrounded by legal uncertainty prone to arbitrariness. Third, the national legislation has been drafted from the perspective that Bulgaria is only a country of origin, which has created major gaps concerning protection of non-EU nationals who could be victims of human trafficking in Bulgaria. Despite its engagement with a single country, this article has wider relevance. It points out that some of the problems at national level originate from weaknesses within the CoE Convention. It exposes the disconnect between, on the one hand, the interpretation of the trafficking definition for the purposes of criminal prosecution and, on the other hand, its interpretation for the purposes of determining the scope of individuals eligible for assistance and protection. It reveals the added value of the EU Trafficking Directive and the EU Residence Permit Directive.