On July 25th 2005, the Court ruled in case Siliadin v. France (73316/01) a violation of article 4 of the Convention. The Court found that the French government failed to its positive obligation to obtain the criminal conviction of a couple B. who kept the applicant, a minor from Togo in domestic slavery for several years.

The applicant was represented by Me Helene Clement (Paris) and counseled by the NGO Comité Contre l’Esclavage Moderne (CCEM).

At the 976th meeting of the Committee of Ministers on October 17th to 18th 2006, the French delegation announced that the articles 33 to 37 of law 2003-239 of March 18th 2003 were sufficient as a general measures to avoid further violation of article 4 of the Convention. Theses articles brought minor changes to the wording of articles 225-13 to 225-15-1 of the penal code on degrading working and living conditions.

On May 1st 2008, the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings of the Council of Europe entered into force in France. But the legislative measures adopted by the French government failed to define “forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery and servitude”  and to establish them as criminal offenses in its penal code. Thereby, the French government failed in its article 225-4-1 of the penal code, to establish as criminal offenses the trafficking in human beings (art.18) and the use of services of a victim of trafficking (art.19).

On December 18th 2009, the French NHRI (CNCDH) released its Opinion on combating the trafficking and exploitation of human beings in France highlighting the failings of the French government to  “ensure effective, adequate repression of trafficking and exploitation” and to “guarantee the effective respect of victims’ rights”.

Nevertheless, at the 1078th meeting on March 2nd to 4th 2010,  the deputies of the Committee of Ministers allowed the preparation of a draft final resolution.

In November 2010, the NGO Comité Contre l’Esclavage Moderne (CCEM) submitted  its observations (see below) on the general measure taken by France to the Department for Execution of Judgments under Rule 9-2. Surprisingly, the observations were not published by the Department in violation of Rule 8-4. The observations showed the failings to obtain criminal conviction in cases of trafficking in human beings.

On January 19th 2011, the case C.N and V. v. France (67724/09) was communicated to the agent of the French government with questions on the measures taken by France to prevent violation of article 4 of the Convention. In this case, the prosecution failed again to obtain the criminal conviction of a couple M. who kept the applicants, two minors from Burundi in domestic slavery for several years.

The Department for Execution of Judgments has not yet made public the agenda of  the 1108th meeting from March 8th to 10th 2011 in violation of Rule 2-1. It is therefore unknown if any monitoring of the general measures taken by France is going to be discussed.

Update (April 30th 2011) :

The Department for Execution of Judgments has recently released the observations of the NGO Comité Contre l’Esclavage Moderne (CCEM) with the “answer” of the French government who pretends not to have access to the prosecution files of 3 slavery cases.

 

In the French authorities’ opinion, these provisions, interpreted by the courts in the light of the Convention and of the present judgment, will make it possible in the future to convict those committing acts similar to those at issue in the present case.

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