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Strasbourg 13/02/2019
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GRETA holds talks with the French authorities

On 11-12 February 2019, the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) held a series of meetings in Paris with a view to discussing the implementation of the most urgent recommendations made in GRETA’s second report on France (adopted in March 2017).

GRETA’s decision to propose the holding of high-level talks with the French authorities was triggered by concerns over the considerable delay in the adoption of a new national policy document to combat human trafficking in France, taking into account GRETA’s recommendations. In October 2018, the National Consultative Committee on Human Rights (CNCDH), which acts as National Rapporteur on human trafficking, issued a declaration stressing the need to adopt a new national action plan for combating human trafficking, supported by adequate recourses and prepared in close collaboration with specialised NGOs and trade unions. GRETA had also received communications from civil society, drawing attention to some persisting gaps in France’s action against human trafficking and the need to better take into account the fight against human trafficking in the child protection, migration and asylum policies. Another source of concern was the fact that the French authorities had asked for an extension of the deadline for submitting their reply to the Committee of the Parties’ recommendation issued on the basis of GRETA’s report, which was due on 13 October 2018.

The representatives of GRETA held meetings with the Interministerial group on combatting violence against women and human trafficking (MIPROF), the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Solidarity and Health, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Education and Youth, the National Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII), and the National Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA). GRETA had also asked to meet the Secretary of State in charge of equality between women and men, who unfortunately was not available. Separate meetings were held with the Ombudsperson for Children, Ms Geneviève Avenard, and the General Secretariat of the National Consultative Committee on Human Rights (CNCDH). Further, GRETA held a joint meeting with representatives of NGOs and trade unions.

Amongst the recommendations made by GRETA in its second report on France which remain to be implemented are:

  • to introduce a national referral mechanism for the identification and assistance of all victims of trafficking, regardless of the form of exploitation, involving relevant civil society organisations, and supported by adequate funding;
  • to reinforce the prevention of child trafficking and the identification and protection of child victims, including among unaccompanied and separated children;
  • to set up a comprehensive and coherent statistical system of trafficking in human beings;
  • to strengthen the proactive identification and investigation of cases of trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation;
  • to ensure the granting of a recovery and reflection period to victims of trafficking;
  • to ensure the application of the non-punishment provision in accordance with Article 26 of the Convention.

While these recommendations remain to be implemented, GRETA received reassurance that progress was being made, in particular towards the preparation of a new national action plan, to be adopted by April 2019, as well as encouraging information about other developments, such as the setting up of the first specialised shelter for child victims of human trafficking. In this regard, GRETA stresses the need to reinforce partnerships with civil society. GRETA trusts that the talks will lead to a strengthening of the dialogue with the French authorities and the implementation of the Convention by France.

GRETA was represented by Mr Frédéric Kurz, First Vice-President of GRETA a.i., and Ms Dorothea Winkler, member of GRETA, who were accompanied by Ms Petya Nestorova, Executive Secretary, and Ms Evgenia Giakoumopoulou of the Secretariat of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

A multidisciplinary group of 15 independent experts set up under the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, GRETA is mandated to monitor the respect of this treaty by the 47 states which have so far ratified it.