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Council of Europe anti-trafficking monitoring body visits Bulgaria

Strasbourg, 25 February 2011- A delegation of the Council of Europe's Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) carried out a country visit to Bulgaria from 21 to 24 February 2011, in order to prepare its first monitoring report on the fight against human trafficking in this country.

This was the seventh country visit carried out in the context of the first round of evaluation of the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. This round was launched in February 2010 when GRETA addressed a questionnaire to the first 10 Parties to the Convention: Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Georgia, Moldova, Romania and the Slovak Republic.

During the visit, the GRETA delegation held meetings with Tsvetan TSVETANOV, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Milena DAMYANOVA, Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Science, Daniela MASHEVA, Deputy Minister of Justice, Krasimir POPOV, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Kamen SITNILSKI, Deputy Prosecutor General, Antoaneta VASSILEVA, Secretary General of the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, as well as with other senior officials from relevant ministries and public bodies. It also met the Ombudsman, Konstantin PENCHEV, and members of his office. Further, discussions were held with representatives of the International Organisation for Migration and members of non-governmental organisations active in combating trafficking in human beings and human rights protection. In addition, the GRETA delegation visited accommodation facilities for victims of trafficking in Sofia and Varna.

The visit was carried out by Mr Valdimir GILCA and Ms Hanne Sophie GREVE, members of GRETA, who were accompanied by Ms Petya NESTOROVA, Executive Secretary of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

On the basis of the information gathered during the visit and the Bulgarian authoritiesí reply to the questionnaire, GRETA will prepare a draft report containing its analysis of the implementation of the Convention by Bulgaria, as well as suggestions for possible improvements and further action. This draft report shall be transmitted to the Bulgarian Government for comments before GRETA prepares its final report, which will be made public along with eventual comments by the Government.