OSCE: Bulgaria registers success in combating human traffickingNadia Ilieva
Bulgaria is doing better than many other European countries in identifying and seizing the assets of traffickers of human beings, said Valiant Richey at a press conference in Sofia on Thursday. As the OSCE special representative and coordinator for combating trafficking in human beings, he visited the Bulgarian capital to meet with cabinet officials and members of non-governmental organisations engaged in this important battle.
In the past years, the competent Bulgarian authorities have seized assets of substantial value owned by human traffickers, which is a very good sign, Richey said. He also pointed out that Bulgaria has shown a strong desire and capacity to cooperate with other countries in combating traffickers, particularly in the EU. “A high number of Bulgarian citizens are exploited in other countries, mainly in the EU. They are victims not only of traffic for sexual and labour exploitation, but also for the less common but still important reasons like traffic for organ removal or baby's sale. Bulgaria successfully takes part in international investigation teams and operations to dismantle criminal groups responsible for trafficking of Bulgarian victims in other European countries,” Valiant Richey said.
Boyko Rashkov, Interior Minister in Bulgaria's interim government, said that the country is paying great attention to combating human trafficking, especially of children. He noted that it is important for the standard of living and employment rates in the country to be improved so that people do not look for illegal revenue sources. Both Minister Rashkov and Special Representative Richey placed great emphasis on the fact that more stringent penalties need to be imposed on human traffickers, as data shows that in most cases they receive nothing more than a suspended sentence. “Liberal penalties do not have preventive and deterring effect, nor do they leave victims with the sense that they are being protected by the state,” Minister Rashkov said. He is also a chairman of the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings.