At the invitation of the Government of Bulgaria, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material, visited Bulgaria from 1 to 8 April 2019. The objectives of the visit were to assess the situation of the sale and sexual exploitation of children and to evaluate the national child protection system, with a view to making recommendations to prevent and eradicate all forms of sale and sexual exploitation of children. Over the course of the mission, the Special Rapporteur visited Sofia, Burgas, Sliven, Podem and Pernik, where she visited centres and family-type placemetns for child victims of trafficking, sexual exploitation and domestic violence.
In the current report, the Special Rapporteur explores issues relating to the sale and sexual exploitation of children in Bulgaria in the light of international human rights norms and standards. On the basis of the information gathered prior to, during and after her visit, the Special Rapporteur highlights legislative initiatives, the institutional framework and child protection policies implemented to combat and prevent the phenomena, and measures taken to provide care for and ensure the recovery and reintegration of child victims. When adressing the legal framewrok, the Special Rapporteur expresses „concern about the Constitutional Court’s decision No. 13/2018 of 27 July 2018, in which the Court declared the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) to be incompatible with the Constitution. She observed during her visit that misinterpretation of the term “gender” had given rise to a hostile environment for organizations working on women’s rights and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, paving the way to homophobia, transphobia and bias against women“.
At the end of the Report the Special Rapporteur makes a number of recommendations to strengthen efforts to prevent and eradicate the sale and sexual exploitation of children, the first of which urges the Bulgarian Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure.
The full report can be found HERE.