Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 16:37 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - France

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 4 June 2008
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - France, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484f9a1628.html [accessed 28 July 2014]
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 persons trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Romania, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Cameroon, and other nations in Eastern Europe and Africa are the primary source countries for women trafficked for sexual exploitation, although some South American and Asian women are also trafficked to France. A majority of the estimated 18,000 women in France's commercial sex trade are likely victims of trafficking. Romania and Bulgaria are the primary source countries for men trafficked to France for sexual exploitation. Involuntary servitude among domestic workers, primarily young women and girls, is also a problem. One NGO reports that there have been instances of such exploitation by diplomats serving in France. There are reports that French Guiana is a destination for women and children trafficked from Brazil for sexual exploitation.

The Government of France fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. In 2007, the French government revised its anti-trafficking law to better prosecute forced labor violations and for the first time, French courts used the country's long-standing anti-trafficking statute to convict two individuals for sex trafficking crimes. The Government of France also demonstrated progress in its efforts to protect and assist victims, although NGOs expressed some frustration with the victim assistance system.

Recommendation for France: Consider measures to advance the usage of the anti-trafficking statute; take steps to help ensure trafficking victims are not inappropriately penalized solely for unlawful acts as a result of being trafficked; and establish a formal national referral mechanism and procedures for victim identification among vulnerable populations, such as women in prostitution.

Prosecution

France prohibits trafficking for both sexual and labor exploitation through Article 225 of its penal code, which prescribes penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for rape – 7 years' imprisonment. In October 2007, France strengthened its anti-trafficking law in an effort to more easily prosecute forced labor traffickers. The National Trafficking in Persons Unit reported that France convicted two individuals for sex trafficking in 2007 for the first time under pimping and anti-trafficking laws. Prosecutors continued to prefer anti-pimping laws to the anti-trafficking law in sex trafficking cases where penalties are equally stringent because prosecutors are accustomed to the established case law of long-standing pimping statutes. France reported 505 pimping arrests and prosecutions in 2006, which is comparable to 2005 data. The government does not disaggregate sentencing data by crime, making it unclear how many of these were trafficking cases. The Ministry of Interior has three teams of police that work with other EU member states to combat trafficking. These teams share information on trafficking cases and train hotel managers and employees on identifying trafficking-related activity. There were no known efforts to apply law enforcement efforts against significant child sex trafficking reported in French Guiana, which is entirely under the administrative control of France.

Protection

The Government of France demonstrated progress in its efforts to protect and assist victims of trafficking in 2007. The Government of France continued to protect and assist victims of trafficking, to include providing NGOs with over $2 million for victim protection services. The government also gives victims a monthly stipend in addition to medical care, legal counsel, shelter, and psychological counseling. NGOs claimed that there is no centralized mechanism to help authorities identify victims and refer them to service providers. There is evidence that victims may be inadvertently penalized for unlawful acts that were committed as a direct result of being trafficked. NGOs reported that women in prostitution are sometimes arrested and fined for solicitation without being screened to determine whether they are trafficking victims. The Government of France provides suspected victims of trafficking with a 30-day reflection period upon admission to a shelter to consider their legal options. In cases where the victim is repatriated to their home country, France works with the country to ensure safety and medical care. To victims of trafficking who work with police to prosecute traffickers, the Government of France provides witness protection services and issues one-year residency cards that can be renewed every six months. NGOs expressed frustration that the government did not waive the fee for the residency permit ($407), renewal fees ($103), and visa validation tax ($177) for trafficking victims. Victims found in small towns do not have the same access to shelters as those found in larger cities. In addition, victims in smaller towns experienced hurdles in managing the victim protection bureaucratic processes with local authorities.

Prevention

France continued to demonstrate efforts to raise awareness and prevent trafficking in persons in 2007. In cooperation with the French Soccer Federation, the Ministry of Health launched a trafficking demand reduction campaign against prostitution at international soccer games. The Ministry of the Interior funded a publicity campaign of anti-trafficking posters. The government operates a national Trafficking in Persons Unit headed by a senior civil servant in the Ministry of Interior. Some NGOs nonetheless believe that a more robust national government body is needed to coordinate comprehensive anti-trafficking efforts. As part of on-going antitrafficking education efforts, the government sponsored a nationwide conference for enforcement officials, magistrates, and NGOs to discuss how to improve communication and cooperation in protecting victims and preventing trafficking in March 2007. President Chirac raised awareness of human trafficking on the Day to Commemorate Slavery on May 10, 2007. All French military personnel receive training on trafficking during basic training. There is also a three-week training given to French military peacekeepers before their departure on overseas deployment.

The French government continues to fund programs through airlines and tourism operators describing the penalties for child sex tourism, including pamphlets given to tourists that show a picture of a child and the message, "she is not merchandise." The government provides funding for Air France buses traveling to the Paris airports to broadcast a video alerting tourists that French citizens will be prosecuted for sex tourism actions on foreign soil. All tourism students in France must do course work on sex tourism. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs researches indicators of child sex tourism abroad to warn French tourist of child sex tourism sites and monitor sex tourism data.

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