GRETA publishes its third report on France
Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash
The Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) urges the French authorities to take additional measures to facilitate and guarantee access to justice for all victims of trafficking, and to set up a national mechanism for the identification and referral of victims of trafficking.
These are some of the main proposals for action contained in the third evaluation report on France’s implementation of the Council of Europe Anti-Trafficking Convention, published today by GRETA.
France remains above all a country of destination for victims of human trafficking, but it is also a country of origin and transit. According to available data, the number of victims of human trafficking and other trafficking-related offenses was 1,401 in 2016, 1,263 in 2017, 1,445 in 2018, 1,460 in 2019 and 1,243 in 2020 .
While welcoming the existence of legal avenues for seeking redress, GRETA is concerned about the low amounts awarded in compensation for harm suffered by victims of trafficking. GRETA therefore calls on the authorities to guarantee effective access to compensation, to ensure that the judicial investigation includes the collection of evidence of the harm suffered by the victim and to make full use of the legislation on seizure and confiscation property to secure compensation.
Although the number of investigations and prosecutions in human trafficking cases has increased since 2016, the number of convictions remains low. GRETA considers that the French authorities should step up their efforts to ensure that cases of trafficking are pro-actively investigated and prosecuted effectively leading to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions, in particular by developing specialization in trafficking for investigators and magistrates.
In addition, the available protection measures should be effectively applied to victims and witnesses of trafficking in order to protect them, in particular by more frequently using audiovisual equipment for hearing victims and by increasing the number of rooms specially equipped to hear the voice of child victims.
GRETA also called on the authorities to strengthen their co-operation with the private sector and to ensure that the law on corporate responsibility is fully implemented.
While welcoming efforts to prevent and combat trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation, GRETA considers that proactive monitoring should be strengthened in sectors at high risk of trafficking. Efforts to prevent and detect cases of domestic servitude should also be intensified and increased specialization of law enforcement and justice officials in combating trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation should be encouraged. .
Echoing the recommendations of its second report, GRETA considers that the French authorities should step up their efforts to raise public awareness of all forms of trafficking, including trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation, and to discourage demand services provided by trafficked persons.
Noting that difficulties persist in identifying victims of trafficking in France, GRETA calls for the establishment of a national mechanism for the identification and referral of victims of trafficking, and to ensure that, in practice, victims benefit from a period of recovery and reflection.
GRETA is also concerned about the growing trend of child trafficking in France and the insufficient means put in place to detect and care for the victims. The authorities should introduce specific procedures for children in the national identification and referral mechanism and develop reintegration programs for child victims of trafficking.
Despite the improvement in victim support, GRETA is concerned that the number of suitable reception centers and the public funds allocated to victim support associations remain insufficient.
Finally, GRETA considers that the French authorities should mobilize the necessary financial and human resources to fight effectively against all forms of trafficking and ensure that strategic documents, such as the national action plan against trafficking in human beings, be adopted in due time.