In a report published today, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) welcomes the legislative changes that have been made with regard to the criminalisation of trafficking in human beings and strengthening of victims’ rights since its first report on France published in 2013, but urges the French authorities to improve the identification of victims of trafficking and the assistance afforded them.
Other positive developments include the adoption of the first National Action Plan against trafficking in human beings in May 2014, progress on the co-ordination of anti-trafficking activities, measures to provide training for the relevant professionals and the appointment of specialised contact persons for trafficking within the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA). Improvements have also been made in the area of compensation for victims of trafficking.
However, despite the progress achieved, some issues continue to give rise to concern. GRETA calls on the French authorities to do more to prevent trafficking of children and to ensure that unaccompanied children benefit from effective care arrangements, including accommodation, access to education and healthcare, and adequate legal assistance. GRETA also recommends that the process of identifying and assisting child victims of trafficking should be reinforced and that provision should be made for the systematic and prompt appointment of guardians to protect their interests.
GRETA urges the French authorities to ensure that, in practice, the identification of trafficking victims is not conditional on their co-operation with the law enforcement agencies and that identification efforts cover all trafficking victims, regardless of the purpose of exploitation.
The report also emphasises the urgent need to improve access to specialised assistance and accommodation for trafficking victims. The authorities should grant foreign victims of trafficking a proper recovery and reflection period and ensure that victims of trafficking are not punished for offences committed as a result of being trafficking.
Lastly, GRETA notes the lack of statistics on trafficking victims broken down according to the purpose of exploitation, and urges the French authorities to pursue their efforts to set up and maintain a comprehensive and coherent statistical system on trafficking in human beings.
The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings entered into force in France in May 2008. This report is the second assessment of the implementation of the Convention by France.