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Policy Wokshop: Assisting and Reintegrating Children Victims of Trafficking: Improving Policy and Practice in Bulgaria
On March 20, 2013 in Sofia CSD organised a policy workshop Support and Reintegration of Children Victims of Trafficking: improving policy and practice in Bulgaria, which served as forum to present the results of a study of legislation, policies and programmes for reintegration of children victims of trafficking (hereafter: child VoT) in Bulgaria. The study was part of comparative research on the same topic conducted in five more EU countries (Austria, Italy, Slovakia, Hungary and Sweden) in the framework of the project Assisting and reintegrating children victims of trafficking: promotion and evaluation of best practices in source and destination countries (ARECHIVIC).

The workshop was opened by Prof. Andrey Nonchev, Director of the Sociological Program at the CSD. He stressed that the perspective of stakeholders is essential for understanding the achievements and shortcomings associated with the reintegration of child VoT in Bulgaria. Prof. Nonchev pointed that although Bulgaria performs better than the other five countries at the level of legislation and strategic documents, the country lacks adequate long-term reintegration programs for child VoT and has to offer better durable solutions to children from this group.

Policy workshop participants were addressed also by Ms. Aimee Comree, Adviser to the Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, OSCE, and Mr. Helmut Sax, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute, in his capacity of Second Vice President of the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings of the Council of Europe (GRETA). The event was attended by representatives of various national and local institutions with responsibilities in combating trafficking and assisting child VoT, including crisis centers for children victims of violence and trafficking.

Ms. Miriana Ilcheva, research fellow at the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the legal and policy framework to combat child trafficking and assist victims in Bulgaria. She outlined some key conclusions and recommendations in the field of criminal law and criminal procedures. They included - the need of transposition of certain European directives to balance the legitimate rights of children and the risk of re-victimisation, the need for application of the principle of non-punishment of child VoT, etc. Mrs. Ilcheva pointed to some recommendations for improvement of the legal framework, such as the introduction of a status of victim different from the status of special protection, improved access to health care and education, personal data protection, better harmonisation between legislation on children who committed crimes and on child VoT.

Dr. Mila Mancheva, senior research fellow in the Sociological Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the results of the evaluation of the programs for reintegration of child VoT in Bulgaria. Some of the main problems in this field pointed by Dr. Mancheva regard the lack of centralised data collection and the lack of monitoring of the assistance measures for child VoT, poor institutional cooperation at the local level, the understaffing of the Child Protection departments at the Agency for Social Assistance. Dr. Mancheva stressed that, even though defined in the law, the principle of the best interest of the child is still not operationalised and sufficiently applied in practice. She laid special emphasis on the need to provide adequate legal protection and representation of children victims of trafficking and to develop adequate programs for long-term integration to serve as major instrument for effective prevention of re-trafficking.

Mr. Norbert Ceipek, Director of the crisis center for unaccompanied children and children victims of trafficking, Drehscheibe -Vienna, presented a model of cooperation between Vienna and Bulgaria in the repatriation of child VoT. Mr Ceipek stressed that since the establishment of the Crisis Center in 2003 child trafficking in Vienna dropped dramatically - from hundreds of children per year to less than 100 children a year. According to Mr. Ceipek, essential to the success of this model of repatriation and of the prevention of re-trafficking is the strengthening of the work of social workers and social pedagogues with the families and the children after the stage of the crisis center in Bulgaria.

At the end of the seminar, Ms. Svetla Encheva, analystat the Sociological Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the new website on assistance and reintegration of children victims of trafficking and demonstrated how the methodological instruments and the analytical information that it contains could be useful for different types of stakeholders in Bulgaria and across the EU.

Agenda (PDF, 24 KB)

* Project co-financed under the Directorate General Justice, Freedom and Security; Directorate D; Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. Sole responsibility lies with the author and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.
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