Subject: Re: seeking input on best practices/experts
From: Comité Contre L'Esclavage Moderne (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Mar 30 2000 - 08:58:09 EST
Dear Jill Thompson,
following your email concerning the preparation for an upcoming
conference on trafficking in human beings in the OSCE region, I will
present the activity of the Comité Contre l'Esclavage Moderne (Committe
Against Modern Slavery).
The Comité Contre l’Esclavage Moderne (CCEM) - Committee Against Modern
Slavery - was created in Paris in 1994, by journalists and lawyers, in
order to help and protect domestic workers reduced to slavery.
Domestic slavery was still unknown in France 6 years ago, and people
used to call this phenomenon exploitation. The CCEM disclosed the real
facts and for the first time called it as it must be.
The CCEM has carried out a research on the french legislation to find a
juridical basis for its activities. The result is that since its
abolition in 1848, slavery has disappeared from the french legislation.
CCEM deplores the lack of a specific incrimination of slavery. In fact,
the New Penal Code and the Labour Regulation condemn only some component
elements of slavery, such as the abuse of the vulnerability of a person
to impose on her/him living and labour conditions contrary to human
dignity, or the illegal work.
Since last two years, the CCEM has offered a social, administrative and
juridical assistance to 210 people.
All the victims are foreigners coming from out of the European Union.
43 different nationalities are represented : they are from Africa,
particularly Madagascar and the countries of West Africa, Middle East,
Asia (Philippines and Indonesia).
Most of them are women. But 30% of the victimes are children.
Employers are French people and foreigners coming from West Africa and
Middle East. 23% of them are embassy officers, which means they are
protected by the diplomatic immunity.
Victims are recruited by different ways. In Asia, specialized agencies
put in touch young women with the embassy officers. In Africa,
traffickers go round villages to recruite children or young women. Very
often, parents entrust their children to relatives or friends living in
Europe in order to give a chance to their children to go to school, to
have a professional training, finally to have a better life.
But, when all these people arrive in France, their living conditions are
the same : they live in slavery.
The CCEM define domestic slavery on the basis of the following 5
* Confiscation of identity papers or the passport
* Taking advantage of the vulnerability of a person to impose on her/him
living and working conditions contrary to human dignity - 15 to 18 hours
a day, 7 days a week, no holidays or time off, no payment or
insufficient payment, insufficient food, squalid housing, etc.
* Confinement to the work place or " auto confinement " - the person is
conditioned by the employer’s intimidation : " you are in an irregular
situation, if the police stops you in the street, you will go to prison
and/or be deported... ".
* Rupture of family ties - prohibition from receiving or sending mail or
making phone calls.
* Cultural isolation - people subject to slavery come from Southeast
Asia, Madagascar, West or East Africa, the Maghreb, etc. They do not
know neither the French language, nor the French or European law, or
One third of these cases implies physical abuse (including sexual
exploitation) and the threat of violence.
Because of the lack of specialized reception centres, a network of
voluntary families working with the CCEM welcome victims for one day,
one week or for months, depending on the needs.
Medical and psychological assistance, literacy courses, French lessons,
professional training are offered to the victims for their social
The CCEM assists the victims in their legal actions. 44 judicial
procedures are in progress. Until now, 5 trials at the criminal court
and 7 at the industrial tribunal have been in favour of the victims and
the employers condemned. An administrative assistance is also provided
to allow the victims to stay in France to the end of the judicial
procedure with a view to regain their rights and to obtain justice.
In addition to the action in France, the CCEM works at the european
level. In september 1998, the European Commission agreed to fund our
one-year project under the DAPHNE Initiative (JHA/98/DAF/215 – For a
concrete action against slavery). During this program four anti-slavery
associations have been created in Austria, Belgium, Italy and Spain.
This is a first step to create a european network to fight against all
forms of modern slavery.
In 1999, the CCEM proposed a new projet, under the DAPHNE Initiative
(REF: 99082/WC - For a European action against slavery).
The partners involved in this new projet are : the Institut des Hautes
Etudes de la Sécurité Intérieure (IHESI - linked to the French Home
Office), the Centre pour l’Egalité des Chances et la Lutte Contre le
Racisme (federal service - Belgium), Anti-Slavery International (NGO
established in 1839 in London - with a consultative status at the UN
Economic and Social Council), the Comité Contre l’Esclavage Moderne -
Belgium, the Comitato Contro la Schiavitù Moderna - Italy, the Comite
Contra la Esclavitud Moderna - Spain, the Komite Gegen Modern Sklaverei
This new one-year project began on the 1st December 1999. It has three
1) To carry out an in-depth study on all forms of modern slavery in the
European Union: covering domestic workers who are reduced to slavery,
women and children trafficked for the purpose of prostitution, victims
of debt bondage, children who are forced to work or exploited for
commercial purposes as beggars, etc. The study is to be carried out in
partnership with the Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Sécurité
Intérieure, the Centre Pour l'Egalité des Chances and the CCEM. The
study is collecting information already available about modern slavery,
existing legislation of the Member States, prosecutions for offences
related to the exploitation of people reduced to slavery and procedures,
protection of victims, access to legal aid, etc. The report which will
cover six countries (Austria, Belgium, Spain, France, United Kingdom,
and Italy) will be published by the IHESI in two languages. Its
findings will be discussed at a conference in the autumn of the year
2000 in Paris, where the collected data, conclusions and
reccommendations will be presented.
2) To launch an appeal to 100 to 200 European graphic designers and
organise a poster exhibition on the theme of "Europe United Against
Slavery". This exhibition will take place in Paris in the autumn of the
year 2000. The exhibition will then circulate in all the countries
partners of the project.
3) The creation of the Comité Européen Contre l'Esclavage Moderne
(CECEM) – European Committee Against Modern Slavery, a non-governmental
organisation based in France. Throughout the project, the CECEM will
aim to promote the european legislation dealing with the fight against
trafficking in humain beings and the protection of the victims. The aim
of the project is to extend the Joint Action of 24 February 1997
(97/154.JAI-fight against traffic in women and children for sexual
exploitation) to cover all forms of modern slavery.
This campaign targets Members of the European Parliament, the European
Commission and Member States’ governments. The CCEM and the British NGO
Anti-Slavery International co-pilot this action of lobbying within the
The CCEM proposes the adoption of a framework-decision under article 34,
paragraph 2b, title VI of the Treaty of Amsterdam, introducing a common
definition of „slavery“.
This definition could be as follow :
„Situation or condition in which a person, minor or adult, male or
female, is subjected
by different devices of coercion or pressure, with or without his/her
consent, by the abuse of authority, or by violence or threats, by fraud
or the abuse of his/her vulnerability or of his/her illegal immigration
status, and in conditions conflicting with human dignity;
for example to:
the obligation to work without any real compensation;
exploitation by illegal immigration networks;
sale of organs;
any other slavery-like practices.
This framework-decision should also promote the harmonization of the
european criminal legislations dealing with the traffic in human beings
and establish minimal common sentences.
The CCEM proposes also the introduction of a „humanitarian“ residence
permit delivered to the victims of all forms of modern slavery. This
residence permit should be a temporary or a permanent residence permit
if it needs so. It shoud allow victims to stay in the country of refuge
during the judicial procedure and longer if the return to their country
of origin is impossible because of possible retaliations.
This permit will be delivered to the victims who want to escape from
violent or exploitation situations if they accept to cooperate with
justice. Because of the vulnerability or the being in danger of the
victims, this cooperation will not inevitably consist in complaining
against the offenders, but could be just a claim to the Police.
The previous advice of a magistrate ruling on the real condition of the
victim should be necessary to the delivery of the „humanitarian“
residence permit, in order to avoid any potential abuse.
Efficient and concrete protection for victims could encourage victims to
testify in judicial procedure. So, in the context of the european social
policy, initiatives should be taken in order to encourage Member States
to create and finance reception, protection and reinsertion centres,
that would be co-managed by competent NGOs.
Other general suggestions are as follow:
- victims must not be considered like foreigners in an irregular
situation but like real victims; also and above all, when prostitutes
are involved, they must be considered as victims ;
- it should provide for the impossibility of resorting to imprisonment
and to the charging of the victims because of the possible illegal
activities committed when they were under a slavery situation or under a
slavery-like situation ;
- the cooperation between the Police and judicial departments at the
european level, and between social workers, all the authorities dealing
with immigration matters and NGOs working in this area should be
- training programs related to the traffic in human beings for the
judicial services, the Police and the Immigration Department should be
setted up ;
- european prevention policies in the countries of origin should be
I will very pleased to discuss with you in order to participate to the
Conference that you are preparing.
Thank you and best regards
Director of the CCEM
-- Comite Contre l'Esclavage Moderne 4, Place de Valois - 75001 Paris Tel. 00 33 1 42 60 49 80 - Fax : 01 55 35 36 56 <http://www.ccem-antislavery.org>
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