Cablegate: Demarche to French Government On 2006 Trafficking

DE RUEHFR #4295/01 1721636
P 211636Z JUN 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 85537

PARIS 00004295 001.2 OF 003

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The director of France's Anti-Trafficking
Office, Jean-Michel Colombani, discussed with us on June 13
the 2006 TIP report and vigorously defended France's
commitment to combat trafficking in persons. It was evident
that Colombani found the report's narrative on France quite
critical. He characterized France as the European leader in
the TIP fight and expressed amazement at the tier rankings of
some other countries with which he had direct experience.
While Colombani understood the requirement for "appreciable
progress," he noted the difficulty of obtaining improving
results against ever-more sophisticated criminal networks and
argued that U.S. concerns about witness protection did not
apply to the French system, where this was less necessary. He
hinted that a tier-two rating for France might make officials
such as himself less inclined to cooperate with the U.S.
Embassy in the future. END SUMMARY

2. (U) On June 5, we informed Jean-Michel Colombani, the
Director of France's Central Office for the Repression of
Human Trafficking (OCRETH), of the 2006 release of the TIP
report and on France's tier ranking and provided by fax a
copy of the narrative on France. On June 13, Deputy
Political Counselor and poloff (TIP reporting officer)
visited Colombani at OCRETH headquarters to discuss the
report further and deliver reftel demarche.

3. (U) France's anti-trafficking office, the Central Office
for the Repression of Trafficking in Persons, known by its
French acronym OCRETH, is a division of the Interior
Ministry's Central Direction of Judiciary Police. The office
was created in 1958 in anticipation of France's 1960
accession to the 1949 UN Convention for the Suppression of
the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the
Prostitution of Others. (NOTE: Malka Marcovich, in her Guide
to the 1949 Convention, notes that France is the only
abolitionist state that created an OCRETH-like center in
fulfillment of Articles 14 and 15 of the Convention, which
encouraged States to establish centers to centralize
information and investigations on trafficking in persons in
oder to "facilitate the prevention and punishment of the
offenses referred to in the Convention" and to be in contact
with corresponding services in other states. END NOTE)

4. (SBU) Colombani clearly had taken on board the negative
language in the narrative on France and welcomed the
opportunity to respond. (NOTE: Colombani, who heads the
operational police anti-trafficking unit, regularly receives
poloff; his commitment to combatting trafficking is clear and
genuine. END NOTE) He appeared dismayed at what he
perceived as a negative characterization of France's ongoing
efforts and expressed frustration with what he perceived as
an unrealistic requirement for "appreciable progress." For
example, he argued that the fact that France dismantled fewer
trafficking networks in 2005 than in 2004 -- after increasing
success against trafficking networks in 2003 and 2004 --
only showed that by 2005, the network bosses had adapted
their procedures to evade police investigatory techniques,
rendering police investigations harder and longer. It was a
fact of life that the better the police got, the harder the
traffickers worked, and the more difficult it was to obtain
results, Colombani said. He added that trafficking chiefs
now tended to stay in "softer" neighboring countries, such as
Germany, and pull the strings from there. He also pointed to
increased use of the internet by criminals to evade arrest
and prosecution.

5. (SBU) Colombani categorically rejected the notion that the
lack of convictions in 2004 on the specific anti-trafficking
statute of the French penal code meant that no traffickers
were being convicted. He explained that the French
government added the anti-trafficking statute itself to the
French penal code in 2003 to comply formally with France's
obligations stemming from its 2002 ratification of the
Palermo convention (the U.N. Convention Against Transnational
Organized Crime). While France inserted the anti-trafficking
statute to comply with the Protocol's requirements, in fact
French law already provided for stringent punishment of
traffickers -- most of whom in France are trafficking for the
commercial sex trade -- through its anti-pimping provisions.
He emphasized that the anti-pimping statutes on which most
traffickers are convicted are well-adapted to the situation
in France, because the majority of trafficking victims in

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France are sexually exploited (as opposed to domestic slaves
or forced labor) and because police and prosecutors know the
provisions well and have used them for years. Colombani
stressed that the penalties for convictions on these counts
are severe and damaging to traffickers.

6. (SBU) On the question of protection of victims, Colombani
reminded us of the October 2005 circular that Interior
Minister Nicolas Sarkozy issued to prefects, ordering them to
disseminate residential permits more broadly to trafficking
victims -- i.e., a victim does not/not have to testify
against his/her trafficker in order to receive a residence
card. He noted a new finance law that extends social
security allocations to victims. Colombani also pointed to
France's May 22 signature of the Council of Europe Convention
On Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, which will
require all Convention signatories to provide, in appropriate
cases, a residence permit that is not/not contingent on the
victim's aiding authorities and to establish a 30-day
reflection period in which a victim can decide whether s/he
wants to cooperate with investigation/trial.

7. (SBU) Colombani speculated that differences in the legal
systems between France and the U.S. were leading the U.S. to
overestimate the importance of victim protection in the
context of witness protection. He noted that the U.S. legal
system, with its emphasis on testimony, creates a parallel
need to protect witnesses. This was not the case in France,
he argued, since police and investigating judges worked
independently of witnesses and are allowed to keep their
testimony secret for much longer. He concluded that, since
witnesses were not put in danger, there was less need to
protect them.

8. (SBU) Holding before him a list of the 2006 Tier rankings
during the discussion, Colombani appeared astounded by the
relative assessments of some of the countries with which he
has direct experience in the fight against trafficking. He
compared French activism with the passivity of several other
European countries, citing the UK, Germany, and especially
the Netherlands. On one hand, he noted amazement that
Germany, which has received numerous calls from activists to
close down the sex village in Berlin during the World Cup,
should be ranked Tier One, along with the Netherlands, which
refused to cooperate with France on trafficking. Pointing to
Tier-Two Nigeria, he affirmed the importance of working with
Nigeria, given because of the large number of Nigerian
trafficking victims present in France, but said authorities
there are so corrupt that he is unable to find a willing
partner to work with France. "You're telling me that France
could easily be in Tier Two, with Nigeria?" he asked,

9.(U) Colombani was explicit that France views itself as the
European leader on TIP. He enumerated the activities that
France undertakes to work with officials in other countries
and to further pan-European efforts against trafficking.
Colombani and his officers do extensive work with countries
of origin, both bilaterally and through the AGIS program of
the EU (a program in which legal practitioners, law
enforcement officials and NGOs in EU member states provide
training and share best practices in the realm of judiciary
and police cooperation). OCRETH officials have led several
training sessions for Western Balkan states struggling to
fight their trafficking problems; OCRETH has an officer
posted in the French Embassy in Bulgaria to serve as a
liaison with Bulgarian officials to combat the trafficking of
Bulgarian nationals to France; three Bulgarian police
officers came to work with OCRETH in 2005; in Bucharest, the
French Embassy has a large cell that works closely with local
police to address the trafficking issue; the OCRETH in Paris
works with the Romanian police attache here; and the French
MFA recently led a mission comprised of officials and NGOs to
Romania to share best practices with their counterparts and
to set up contact networks. Colombani concluded that he
and/or his deputy, Emile Lain, had traveled to numerous
countries, including -- in addition to Romania, Bulgaria, and
Albania, where they make multiple visits each year --
Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam, and Lithuania.

10. (SBU) Summing up, Colombani complained that, in many
respects, France was being made a victim of its success by
the U.S. Legislation was complete, perhaps more complete
than elsewhere. The Interior and Justice Ministries, Police

PARIS 00004295 003.2 OF 003

and Associations were in regular contact -- he named an
upcoming conference in October. (NOTE: The OCRETH will
hold, along with the Fondation Scelles, this fall a national
day of training, in which police, magistrates, NGO workers,
health authorities and others from all around France will
gather in order to exchange information, share best
practices, and reinforce the message of assistance to
victims. END NOTE) Traffickers were indeed prosecuted, if
usually under anti-pimping laws. But the job was also
becoming harder.

11. (SBU) COMMENT: Colombani was more indignant at the
characterization of France's efforts than relieved that
France maintained its Tier-One ranking, as he clearly felt
that French efforts were either misunderstood or
unappreciated. Finally he hinted that a drop for France into
the second tier could have a negative effect on the
willingness of some French officials in the trafficking
domain -- whether at the local level, at the Justice
Ministry, or elsewhere -- to respond to U.S. requests for
information. END COMMENT.
Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: fm


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