France (Tier 1)
France is a destination country for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, primarily from Romania and Bulgaria. Other countries of origin include Albania, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Cameroon. Reports continued of women and children trafficked into involuntary domestic servitude, the majority from Africa. The government estimates that there are 10,000 to 12,000 likely trafficking victims in France. Trafficking of Brazilian women and girls for sexual exploitation to French Guiana – a French possession – remained a serious problem.
The Government of France fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to fund support services for victims and actively investigated and convicted traffickers. To increase identification of potential trafficking victims detained by police, the government should institutionalize a screening and referral procedure to ensure potential trafficking victims are identified and assisted.
In 2005, the French Government continued implementation of the 2003 Domestic Security law that allowed for arrest and fining of potential victims for "passive solicitation." As such, some victims of trafficking are processed through the French criminal justice system for unlawful acts that are a direct result of their being trafficked. French anti-trafficking officials contend that arresting potential victims allows officials to bring them into police custody, away from their pimps, in order to gain information on their trafficking networks and to seek to get them to denounce their traffickers. NGOs criticize the government's lack of a proactive approach to identifying trafficking victims; the reactive approach requires that potential victims identify themselves and denounce their traffickers within 24 hours of detention following arrest, offering victims no time to develop assurances against retribution. The government reported prosecuting and convicting a minimum of 43 traffickers in 2004; sentencing data for 25 of these convictions indicate an average of 28 months. While the government was unable to provide statistical evidence of additional convictions, an undetermined number of traffickers were likely prosecuted under the government's anti-pimping provisions. The government continued its bilateral cooperation, particularly with Bulgaria and Romania, to investigate and prosecute traffickers and to provide for reintegration for those victims who want to return to their countries of origin. In 2005, French authorities dismantled 41 international trafficking networks. During the reporting period, the government implemented its law with extraterritorial application to prosecute a French national who participated in child sex tourism abroad; following a French arrest request, Indonesian authorities arrested a French national in March 2005 and sentenced him in October to 30 months' imprisonment for sexual aggression against three Balinese children. There was no indication of trafficking-related complicity among French Government officials.
In 2005, the national government and city of Paris continued to fund comprehensive services and long-term shelter for trafficking victims through the Accompaniment Places of Welcome (ALC). The ALC network of 33 associations provides places in 44 shelters for trafficking victims. In 2005, ALC reported assisting 44 victims. The government continued to offer victims three to nine months' temporary residency if they filed a complaint or testified against their traffickers. In 2005, the government reported issuing in Paris alone 306 temporary residence permits, of which 197 were renewable. Some NGOs reported difficulties in securing residence permits for victims and a lack of protection and secure accommodations for victims, even for those who cooperated with law enforcement and denounced their traffickers. In October 2005, the Ministry of Interior issued a circular to encourage police and other officials to broaden the application of temporary residence permits. This circular urges that permits be given to victims on humanitarian grounds – if there is reason to believe they face retribution or hardship if repatriated. NGOs criticized the French government for not implementing a victim-centered approach to trafficking, claiming that the Domestic Security law was aimed more at public disorder than combating trafficking. While the government reported 500 deportation orders issued for illegal migrants in 2005, it could not confirm If all were executed; some trafficking victims are likely included in that number. The government continued to deny legal alternatives to the removal of some trafficking victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution.
In 2005, the government continued to fund an NGO-run anti-child sex tourism campaign on all Air France flights, warning French tourists against engaging in sex with minors and alerting them that engaging in child sex tourism is a violation of French law. Cooperation among NGOs assisting trafficking victims and French officials varied across France. The government continued to coordinate its trafficking efforts via an inter-ministerial commission on trafficking, chaired by the lead operational and political focal point on trafficking in France, OCRETH. In March 2006, the French Government announced the creation of positions in six French embassies overseas in countries considered most susceptible to child sex tourism – French officials will educate the country about how to combat child sex tourism, assist in prosecutions of French nationals, and help victims approach authorities. In 2005, the Government of France continued its 2004 poster campaign to raise awareness about the existence of trafficking and exploitation among women in prostitution.