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  • 1. GENERAL INFORMATION

    In France, the issue of human trafficking began to receive political attention in the first years of the twenty first century. In December 2001, a Parliamentary Mission Report on the fight against modern forms of slavery and trafficking was announced. This, in turn, led to a unanimous vote in the National Assembly for a new law to combat trafficking in human beings. In the following years, a comprehensive legal framework on human trafficking was developed in France.

    France is a destination country for women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation from Eastern Europe, West Africa and several Asian countries. Men, women and children from African countries are trafficked for forced labour, including domestic servitude. The French government estimates that 10,000 to 12,000 women are victims of sex trafficking in the country.

    189 French victims were identified in 2010 and 149 in 2011. 654 victims from all nationalities were counted in the same year (Africa: 172, Eastern Europe and the Balkans: 159, Western Europe: 156 South America: 83, Asia: 58 and Maghreb 26.

    Trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation is a major problem in France and mainly affects victims from Nigeria, China, Romania and Bulgaria. The most worrying phenomenon at present is the increasing number of child trafficking in France. Most of these child victims come from South-Eastern Europe, mainly from Romania and Bulgaria. They are mostly forced to begging, but also to committing crimes. Young victims come, in the vast majority, from Roma communities and they are recruited either by family criminal networks, or by their own parents for food purposes. Minors doing pickpocketing, theft at ATM and similar crimes come mostly from small towns of South-East Europe. They are often controlled by mafia organizations that extend their activities in several Western European countries. For instance, groups that are present in the Paris region come from southern Romania and conduct similar activities in Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. In most cases, children act under the influence of their families and execute what they ask them to do. In case of "disobedience" or insufficient earnings, children are usually victim of physical violence.

    A summary of this text is available in the official language of the country.

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  • 2. INSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK

    Legislation

    France prohibits trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation. The specific offence of trafficking in persons was first established in France in 2003 under the Law on Internal Security(Loi sur la Sécurité intérieure). The law introduced the definition of human trafficking in the Criminal Code and set up a specific punishment for those who exploit vulnerable persons.

    Amendments to the Criminal Code made in 2008 criminalise trafficking for sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and the trafficking of children through Article 225. The Code prescribes penalties which are commensurate with other grave crimes such as rape.

    However, the French authorities also use other articles in the Criminal Code to prosecute trafficking cases, in particular the offence of soliciting prostitution, and the offences of “labour and living conditions against human dignity”.

    Victims of trafficking are provided with a six month reflection period. A renewable six month residence permit is given to those who choose to cooperate in criminal proceedings.

     

    National Strategy/National Action Plan

    There is currently no National Action Plan for combating trafficking in human beings in France. However, in December 2008, the government established an inter-ministerial working group with the mandate to create one.

     

    Coordination of anti-trafficking actions at a national level

    The French government has established an inter-ministerial working group, co-chaired by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of the Interior. The working group brings together all competent ministries as well as representatives of international organisations and representatives of non-governmental organisations.

    The working group is responsible for setting up a National Coordination Body and a National Rapporteur, and for drawing up the National Plan of Action to combat trafficking in human beings.

    In the Ministry of the Interior, the Central Office for the Repression of Trafficking in Human Beings (OCRTEH), is responsible for

    • identifying and punishing any offences related to procuring
    • centralising all information that could facilitate the search for human trafficking
    • co-ordinating all operations for the suppression of trafficking in human beings throughout France

     

    National Rapporteur or equivalent mechanisms

    The French government has not appointed a National Rapporteur or equivalent mechanism. Nevertheless, France is aware of the importance of such a mechanism, and planning is underway by the inter-ministerial working group. 

    The group is focusing on a draft proposal to the government concerning the appointment of bodies to coordinate all anti-trafficking activities at the national level. Such exercise will be an important step on the way to the appointment of a National Rapporteur.

     

  • 3. IMPLEMENTATION OF ANTI-TRAFFICKING POLICY

    Prevention

    The French government has adopted several initiatives with an aim to improve understanding of various forms of human trafficking and to allow stricter prosecution of this crime. For example, in 2008, the government sponsored a nationwide conference which brought together law enforcement officials and non-governmental organisations to improve cooperation and communication in protecting victims and preventing trafficking.

    In 2008, the government provided training to law enforcement personnel to improve their ability to identify potential trafficking victims, and created and distributed pocket-sized cards containing victim identification guidelines to border police and non-governmental organisations. Furthermore, it trained some 200 prosecutors to make better use of France’s anti-trafficking laws instead of relying primarily on anti-pimping laws to address sex trafficking offences.

    The government provided all French military personnel with anti-trafficking training. Additionally, there was a three-week training course given to French military personnel before their deployment in international peacekeeping missions.

    Assistance and support provided to victims

    The government provides funding to victims, including a monthly stipend of 464 Euros, as well as medical care, legal counsel, shelter, and psychological counselling. The government, together with the city of Paris, also fund non-governmental organisations to provide a network of services and shelter for victims. In repatriation cases the French government works with the country of origin to ensure the victim's safety and medical care.

    The government has not provided data on the total number of victims given shelter and assistance or the number that received residence cards in 2008. According to the US State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2009, several non-governmental organizations claim that some trafficking victims who denounced their traffickers were never granted residency papers, or received very provisional residency permits, and were offered no protection from retaliation. The non- governmental organisations complained that the government did not employ systematic efforts to ensure that victims had access to shelter and services provided by NGOs through a formal referral process. According to an Amnesty International Report, some victims of trafficking have also been accused of ‘living off immoral earnings’ alongside their traffickers. The government has challenged the report’s findings.

    According to the US TIP report 2010, the French government reported that police and other authorities identified and referred 799 trafficking victims to NGOs for assistance in 2009. The NGO Committee Against Modern Slavery (CCEM) reported 216 cases of forced labor in France in 2008; 120 of these victims were reportedly placed in protective custody.

    Residence permits

    Victims of trafficking are provided with a six month reflection period. During this period, the victim may remain in the country in order to decide whether s/he wants to cooperate with the police. A renewable 6 month residence permit is given to those who chose to cooperate in criminal proceedings.

    During 2008, the French government provided witness protection services and issued one-year residency cards, which can be renewed every six months, to victims of trafficking who cooperated with authorities in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers.

    According to the US State Department TIP Report, the Paris police reported issuance of 92 residency permits to undocumented migrants believed to have been victims of trafficking in 2008.

    Investigation and prosecution

    Established multidisciplinary groups, special units and police groups

    The Office Central pour la Répression de la Traite des Êtres Humains (OCRTEH) handles trafficking cases for sexual exploitation and prostitution. In 2007, OCRTEH had 32 officers assigned full time to the policing of trafficking in persons.

    The Office Central de Lutte Contre le Travail Illégal (OCLTI) handles cases of trafficking for forced labour under the offences of “labour and living conditions against human dignity”. About 100 cases were investigated each year for various forms of labour trafficking in 2006 and 2007. From January to September 2008, 32 cases were investigated under this offence, involving 55 presumed offenders.

    Officials in French Guiana have reported two trafficking investigations in the territory during 2008, one involving the possible forced labour of Chinese victims and the other a sex trafficking case involving a Brazilian minor. However, there were no reported prosecutions or convictions of trafficking offenders in French Guiana during 2008.

    Latest numbers of prosecutions and convictions

    The Ministry of the Interior dismantled 30 trafficking networks in France in 2008.

    According to the French authorities, the number of human trafficking cases prosecuted through the specific offence of trafficking in human beings (Article 225-4-1) is very limited. Human trafficking cases are mostly prosecuted through the offences of “soliciting prostitution” in cases of sexual exploitation and “labour and living condition against human dignity” in the case of trafficking for forced labour.

    According to the US Trafficking in Persons report 2010, the French government reported convicting 19 trafficking offenders under its anti-trafficking statute in 2008, the most recent year for which data was available, compared with 33 convicted trafficking offenders in 2007.In addition, the government reported convicting an additional 26 trafficking offenders for the forced prostitution of children, with sentences of up to seven years. The government reported 523 prosecutions under its anti-pimping statute in 2008; approximately 16 per cent of the original arrests were for trafficking-specific offences. French law enforcement authorities successfully dismantled 40 trafficking rings in France in 2009 and cooperated to dismantle 14 international networks with bilateral partners through joint investigation teams aimed at investigating and prosecuting cases across borders.

    Latest initiatives/activities related to anti-trafficking policy

    Regarding the financial proceeds from trafficking in human being, in recent years France has sought to strengthen its judicial and repressive tools in the area of confiscation of criminal assets. Since 2005, the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police has established a platform for the identification of criminal assets whose officials are responsible for assets investigation in court cases involving organized crime. This tool has led to an exponential increase in the amount of criminal assets seized.

    For example, in January 2011 the Central Directorate of Border Police created a specialized unit for the search and confiscation of proceeds from trafficking in human beings.

    The group of cases reported and criminal proceeds investigate in cooperation with fiscal authorities, social services.

    At the end of 2011, criminal assets seized by the border police specialized in trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants amounted to 1,661,265 euros, eight times more than in 2010.

    In addition, on 9 July 2010, a law to facilitate the seizure and confiscation in criminal matters allow to freeze the assets of suspected traffickers at the beginning of the investigation. This text creates criminal proceedings for confiscation (movable and immovable property, intangible property) and establishes the agency for management and recovery of seized and confiscated assets.

    Furthermore, the operational coordination unit for the fight against trafficking and exploitation of migrants, established on 25 October 2010, proceeds to dismantle irregular  migration channels and combat all forms of exploitation resulting (Concealed work, trafficking in human beings, treatment contrary to human dignity ...).

    Finally, the Central Office for the Repression of irregular migration and employment of immigrants without permits, also establish a partnership with the Central Office for the fight against illegal work to strengthen the fight against the employment of irregular immigrants; this offense is often linked to networks helping unauthorized entry and residence.

    France has decided to create a network of focal points, composed of representatives of the ministries concerned with the prevention of trafficking in human beings, victims support, traffickers' prosecution and partnership with institutions and associations at national and international level. The network is headed by the Ministry of the Interior.

  • 4. EU AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

    France contributes to the supply of information for the Phoenix European criminal analytical work file on cross-border procuring. In 2008, close bilateral contacts networks were set up with Romania and Bulgaria aiming to dismantle procurement. This project, begun in 2002 and 2003, focuses on the identification, location and arrest of traffickers operating from their own countries.

    In October 2008, the French government created a joint anti-trafficking unit with Belgian law enforcement counterparts, reportedly the first of its kind within the EU.

    In the strategies put in place, it should be noted:

    • Systematic development of research to identify and seize criminal assets;
    • Development and increased use of the tools of international cooperation, especially within the European Union;
    • Development of relations with associations for victims' protection to encourage victims to testify.

     

    Future plans for the implementation of Directive 2011/36/EU

    To implement the Directive 2011-36 and meet the new challenges in this field, France is currently taking a series of measures at national level.

    • As part of the implementation of Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011, the Ministry of Justice has prepared a bill which amends Article 225-4-1 of the penal code to strengthen the protection of victims of trafficking, especially the victims of forced labor and domestic servitude. This bill is still under consideration.
    • An Interministerial Mission for the protection of women victims of violence and the fight against trafficking in human beings (MIPROF) was established by law on 3 January 2013. The MIPROF will provide a dual mission to combat violence against women, and to provide a national coordination of the fight against trafficking in human beings, in accordance with the recommendations of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. This mission will ensure a coordinated and agreed action with all national stakeholders in the fight against trafficking, as well as the European and international partners. In 2013 the Mission will adopt an action plan for the period 2014/2017 that will also monitor that the recommendations made by the Directive 2011-36 are taken into account when providing targeted and effective action to combat the trafficking of persons.
  • 5. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    The French government is planning to establish a dedicated department on trafficking in human beings in the near future. Such a department would be responsible for:

    • Improving the coordination of all bodies involved in combating human trafficking and assisting victims;
    • Optimising all available resources and capabilities in order to avoid duplication;
    • Facilitating the exchange of information;
    • Facilitating the introduction and monitoring of various obligations and initiatives;
    • Maintaining a database dedicated to the issue of human trafficking.
  • 6. RESOURCES

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