Human rights chiefs in France have told authorities they must do more to prevent people from being forced to live as “modern day slaves”.
France has come under fire for not devoting enough resources to the fight against modern slavery, in a report published on Thursday by the CNCDH (France’s National Commission for Human Rights),
Not enough people are aware of the scale of modern day slavery in France, the report concluded, adding that many think it relates only to prostitution.
“Human slavery in France is a little known reality,” the commission stated, adding that although sexual exploitation forms a “significant part” of the modern slave trade, it also encompasses domestic slavery, sweatshop workers, and minors who forced to work as beggars and thieves to help criminal organizations.
It also criticized the fact that France’s justice system treats exploited minors as “criminals or illegal immigrants” rather than victims, explaining that those involved in criminal gangs, for example, are often abused and punished if they don’t bring in enough money. A large pickpocketing ring, which used children as young as seven, was dismantled by police last month.
The CNCDH added that there is a misconception that only migrants who enter the country illegally are affected by trafficking whereas native French people, particularly vulnerable people, can also be victims of forced labour and exploitation.
For the past two years, the independent commission has consulted associations which work with victims to work out the scale of the problem in France.
The French government launched a national plan to combat slavery in 2014, but the CNCDH says the plan is “far from being effective” and that “a good number of measures have not been put in place”.
-more at The Local