The government maintained protection efforts. In 2017, the government identified 894 victims of exploitation, compared with 1,118 in 2016. The victims identified in 2017 included 293 French, 132 Nigerian, 112 Romanian, 68 Chinese, 58 Brazilian, and 231 were other nationalities. Approximately 15 percent of victims were minors. In June 2017, the governmental Mission for the Protection of Women against Violence and the Fight against Human Trafficking (MIPROF) and the National Supervisory Body on Crime and Punishment released the results of a large-scale 2015 survey completed by 13 NGOs, which was intended to serve as a model for future annual data collection on victims. The survey provided the most comprehensive information on victim demographics to date and found 88 percent of victims were women, 10 percent men, one percent transgender, and the remainder unidentified. Children accounted for nine percent of victims, of whom 78 percent were female. The majority were victims of forced prostitution (81 percent), followed by forced domestic servitude (10 percent), forced labor (four percent), forced criminality (four percent), and forced begging (one percent).
The government had formal procedures for identifying victims and an NGO-run referral mechanism. The Ministry of Solidarity and Health, and the City of Paris provided funding for the Ac-Se system, an NGO-managed network of 45 NGO-run shelters and 23 specialized NGOs assisting adult victims of sex and labor trafficking. Ac-Se assisted 79 trafficking victims in 2017, compared with 82 in 2016, providing them shelter, legal, medical, and psychological services. Seventy-four were victims of sex trafficking, one of labor trafficking, and three were forced to commit a petty crime. The government maintained Ac-Se’s budget at €220,000 ($264,110) for 2018. Local governments provided French language classes to victims, and some victims could qualify for subsidized housing and job training programs. The government, through the national employment agency, provided some foreign victims a stipend of €340 ($410) a month; civil society reported the conditions for being granted a stipend were not uniform and varied by region. The central and municipal governments also partially funded the operation of a shelter in Paris and a small number of emergency apartments external to the Ac-Se system. Child trafficking victims were referred to the child welfare services (ASE) system. GRETA reported the existing ASE shelters varied in quality of care and many were not suited for the special assistance needs of child trafficking victims. During the reporting period, six child trafficking victims received services from ASE shelters. The office of the protection of refugees’ social workers, staff, senior protection officers, and 100 new refugee protection officers received training on victim identification and assistance protocols. The government continued to operate a hotline for children in abusive situations, including trafficking. In 2017, hotline operators received 1,550 calls related to trafficking. Ac-Se, with assistance from 60 partner organizations, operated a separate hotline during the reporting period. The hotline received more than 900 calls and on average referred 50 trafficking cases a year to Ac-Se for assistance. The government distributed pocket-sized victim identification indicator guides to border police and NGOs and developed detailed internal training manuals for educators and security forces who encounter child trafficking victims. The MOJ partnered with Ac-Se to train front-line responders, including labor inspectors and social workers, on the identification and referral of trafficking victims. The MOJ also held a seminar on victim identification procedures for members of the judiciary. Newly assigned border police and cybercrime investigators received victim identification training.
The government had an NGO-run referral program to transfer victims detained, arrested, or placed in protective custody by law enforcement authorities to institutions that provided short-term care. Criminal trials for trafficking or aggravated pimping could be heard in private at the victim’s request. GRETA reported child victims of forced begging and criminality had been arrested and prosecuted without being screened for trafficking indicators by law enforcement officials. Victims could receive a 30-day reflection period during which they could decide whether to lodge a complaint or participate in criminal proceedings against a trafficker; however, some authorities were not familiar with the reflection period and did not offer it. Victims were eligible for temporary residence permits, regardless of whether they cooperated with police investigations. Trafficking victims were also eligible for international protection under refugee status or subsidiary protection status in cases where victims had a credible fear of retaliation, including from public authorities in their country of origin, if returned. Victims were eligible to receive restitution through the Crime Victims Compensation Program. The compensation request process often took several years to complete, and many victims had requests in progress.