Back GRETA publishes its third report on France

Strasbourg 18 February 2022
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Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

In a report published today, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) calls on the French authorities to take additional steps to facilitate and guarantee access to justice for all trafficking victims and set up a national victim identification and referral mechanism.

These are among the main proposals for action included in the third evaluation report on France’s implementation of the Council of Europe’s anti-trafficking convention.

While welcoming the legal remedies available for seeking compensation, GRETA is concerned by the low level of damages awarded to trafficking victims. GRETA therefore asks the authorities to guarantee effective access to compensation, ensure that the collection of evidence about the harm the victim has suffered is part of the criminal investigations and make full use of the legislation on the freezing and confiscation of assets to secure compensation to victims.

Although there has been an increase in the number of investigations and prosecutions in human trafficking cases since 2016, the number of convictions is still low. GRETA considers that the French authorities should step up their efforts to ensure that cases of trafficking are investigated proactively and prosecuted effectively, leading to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sentences, in particular by developing specialisation in trafficking cases among investigators, judges and prosecutors.

In addition, available protection measures should be effectively enforced for victims and witnesses of trafficking in order to protect them, including by making more use of audiovisual equipment to interview victims and increasing the number of rooms specially designed for taking evidence from child victims.

GRETA also calls on the authorities to strengthen engagement with the private sector and ensure that the law on due diligence by companies is fully implemented.

While welcoming the steps taken to prevent and combat trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation, GRETA considers that efforts should be stepped up in terms of proactive inspections in sectors with a high risk of trafficking. Efforts to prevent and detect cases of domestic servitude should also be stepped up, and greater specialisation in combating trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation should be encouraged among members of law enforcement agencies, judges and prosecutors.

Reiterating the recommendations in its second report, GRETA considers that the French authorities should step up their efforts to raise public awareness of all forms of human trafficking, including for the purpose of labour exploitation, and discourage demand for services provided by persons who have been trafficked.

Noting that difficulties still exist in identifying victims of trafficking in France, GRETA urges the authorities to introduce a national identification and referral mechanism for victims and to ensure that, in practice, they are granted a recovery and reflection period.

GRETA is also concerned about the growing trend of child trafficking in France and the inadequacy of the resources put in place to identify victims and provide care to them. The authorities should therefore introduce specific procedures for children in the national identification and referral mechanism and develop reintegration programmes for child victims of trafficking.

In spite of the improvements in assistance to victims, GRETA is concerned that the number of suitable accommodation facilities and the public funds allocated to NGOs helping victims are still inadequate.

Lastly, GRETA considers that the French authorities should mobilise the necessary financial and human resources in order to effectively combat all forms of trafficking in human beings and ensure that strategic documents, such as the national action plan against trafficking in human beings, are adopted in a timely manner.

France remains primarily a country of destination for victims of trafficking in human beings, but is also a country of origin and transit. According to the data available, the number of victims of human trafficking and other related offences was 1 401 in 2016, 1 263 in 2017, 1 445 in 2018, 1 460 in 2019 and 1 243 in 2020.