Standard Operating Procedures for ADULT Victims of Trafficking



A recovery and reflection period is granted to every presumed trafficked person regardless of whether they cooperate as a witness or whether criminal proceedings have been initiated against the perpetrators. According to Article 26 of the Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Act, the reflection period is 30 days. The reflection period starts automatically at the time of formal identification of the trafficked person in the territory of the Republic Bulgaria. The trafficked person is informed by the identifying organisation about the beginning and duration of the reflection period. The reflection period has two main functions:
  • The trafficked person can receive immediate support and accommodation in a shelter/centre in order to recover from their experience;
  • Alongside the recovery, the trafficked person can make an informed decision whether to cooperate for detecting the traffickers.
The trafficked person may obtain the following assistance during the reflection period:
  • Accommodation at a centre or shelter for victims of trafficking;
  • Psychological counselling and social support aimed at the emotional and social problems related to the decision whether to cooperate;
  • Legal counselling about the understanding and planning of legal actions in the case.
The reflection period ends when:
  • Its duration is over;
  • The trafficked person decides to cooperate with the law-enforcement authorities.

Step 1. Legal counselling

The trafficked person is informed about the possibilities to cooperate in detecting the traffickers and potential judicial proceedings. The trafficked person should receive advice in view of the specifics of the circumstances related to the situation. The victim should be able to make an informed decision in their interest.

Victims accommodated at centres and shelters have the right to free legal aid which is provided by the National Legal Aid Bureau (NLAB). During the reflection period, the trafficked person has the right to free initial legal aid from a lawyer registered at NLAB. It is in the form of counselling about:

  • Filing a suit;
  • Preparing documents to file a suit.

The initial legal aid is free in all cases and follows automatically from the status of a victim of trafficking. Applications for initial legal aid are submitted to NLAB.

Step 2. Protection measures taken under Article 25 CTHBA

Article 25 CTHBA provides for a special protection status of trafficked persons who have consented to cooperate for detecting the perpetrators for the duration of the criminal proceedings.
The special protection status includes:

  • a long-term residence permit for foreign nationals;
  • extended stay at accommodation centres for the duration of criminal proceedings.

The special protection status is granted by a prosecutor upon request of the trafficked person. It may be terminated by the prosecutor before expiry if:

  • The person has renewed contacts with the perpetrators of the crime for the detection of which the person agreed to cooperate;
  • The prosecutor believes that the expressed consent for cooperation is fictitious;
  • There is danger to public order or national security.

Step 3. Psychological counselling

During the reflection period, after the trafficked person has overcome the crisis, the person may receive psychological counselling. This is voluntary. The consultations are individual and are included in the action plan for the trafficked person.

Step 4. Organising the safe return of the trafficked person to the country of origin in case of a foreigner or to their place of residence in the case of a Bulgarian citizen

If the trafficked person does not wish to use the reflection period or after the period has ended and no further measures have been taken, the safe return of the trafficked person is organised. This activity is described in Measure 3.2. Return.