Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 08:28 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - France

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 11 June 2003
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - France, 11 June 2003, available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

France (Tier 1)

France is a destination country for victims, primarily women, trafficked from Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union for the purposes of prostitution and domestic servitude. French police estimate that 90% of the 15,000 prostitutes working in France are trafficking victims, and that 3,000 to 8,000 children are forced into prostitution and labor, including begging. To a lesser extent, France is also a transit country for women trafficked from Africa, South America, and Eastern and Southern Europe to other European countries, and sometimes traffickers "rotate" victims in and out of France and neighboring countries to avoid violating visa regulations and evade the police. There are also reports of Chinese and Colombian men trafficked into bonded or forced labor in France.The Government of France fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. In 2003, France passed a comprehensive law to combat trafficking and slavery and improve victim assistance, and developed an innovative preventive program through Air France. The law and its related protections are still very new and while no information on implementation of the criminal and protective mechanisms is available as of now, these will be important elements for fulfillment of the minimum standards in coming years.


In an effort to prevent trafficking of would-be legal migrants, the government conducted focused bilateral efforts with source country governments. For example, the government provided financial assistance to trafficking victims from Mali to prevent them from falling into traffickers' hands, and France and Romania concluded a bilateral agreement to reduce child-beggar and child-prostitute trafficking networks. Air France, a government enterprise, began a poster and in-flight video campaign on sex tourism. The government provided financial support to organizations in France conducting prevention activities.


In February 2003, France passed an anti-trafficking and slavery law, including a provision against trafficking of children for begging, with penalties of imprisonment or high fines. The law enhances existing criminal provisions, including a 2002 law against child prostitution and trafficking. Cases progressed to court, including an indictment against 11 defendants charged with prostitution of a minor. The Central Office for the Repression of Trafficking in Persons (OCRTEH) under the central criminal investigation directorate of the judicial police coordinates operations among the law enforcement agencies and with NGOs, and keeps statistics on victims and arrests. OCRTEH arrested 643 people for pimping, and assisted 875 victims. OCRTEH succeeded in dismantling 20 Eastern European trafficking networks, four Nigerian networks, and arrested and sentenced the organizers of a West African prostitution ring. French police placed liaison officers in Romania and Bulgaria, and finalized a two-year joint Russian-French investigation of an international trafficking network run by the Russian mafia. Two notorious gang leaders were indicted and two more are in custody.


According to the new interior security law, the government assists victims of trafficking by opening its safe houses to victims, providing social assistance, and granting temporary residence while victims apply for asylum or pursue cases against former employers. The government's "ad hoc" administrator is responsible for protecting unaccompanied minors through social care services, legal representation and asylum procedures. The government opened a special center for children who are victims of sexual exploitation. French legislation passed in October 2002 allows for the repatriation of trafficking victims and the government has worked with notable source countries to ensure reintegration assistance. Foreign victims who collaborate with the French judiciary are granted a temporary residence card, and a permanent one if the person who trafficked them is convicted. Those who do not participate in court proceedings are immediately sent back to their home countries, also with reintegration assistance.

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