Country visit: 21 November to 2 December 2011
Report published: 29 February 2012
Below is a short summary of some of the key issues from the report of the Special Repporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, Najat Maalla M'jid, concerning her mission to France. Read the full text. Please note that these are not official UN summaries.
The Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography made an official visit to France from 21 November to 2 December 2011 and met with a number of stakeholders in order to investigate the scale and impact of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and to look at the general child protection framework pertaining to these fields, thereby identifying strengths and weaknesses and making recommendations for future improvements.
In the report it is noted that the scale of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography is very difficult to gauge due to difficulties in collecting information. The special rapporteur observes that the sale of children in France exists in limited cases such as of babies and of young girls for the purposes of sexual exploitation. With regard to child prostitution, the special rapporteur notes the involvement of predominantly foreign or unaccompanied minors in prostitution, the constant increase in sexual assaults on minors and the persisting problem of sexual tourism involving children. The Special Rapporteur reports widespread concern among stakeholders of an increase in child pornography with increasing viewing of images on the Internet, increasingly violent images and younger victims, noting that such crimes are more often the work of individuals than criminal networks. She notes that the identification of victims is highly dependent on the quality of the technological expertise and access to the information that is held by the Internet access providers. The report identifies pressure factors, such as absent or dysfunctional families and demand factors, such as an international increase in the demand for sexual services involving children as key causes of these problems and identifies the deteriorating economic situation in France as a key risk factor.
In her analysis of the measures taken to combat the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in France the Special Rapporteur focuses on the analysis of the general framework for child protection. By investigating the general legislative framework, the juvenile justice system, institutions aimed at child protection, available assistance to and care of children, reintegration and monitoring of children, prevention measures, training and capacity-building of those responsible for child protection, child participation, social responsibility of the private sector and international and regional cooperation, the special rapporteur comes to the conclusion that although the commitment to the care of children is commendable, it is fragmented and uneven and depends heavily on the department responsible. She regrets the lack of cooperation between departments and the lack of transparency that exist in relation to competence, legislation and information and emphasizes the fact that the child protection strategy in France is based on a complex structure involving many stakeholders that calls for effective integration. With regard to the national legislative system used to enforce and protect rights in these domains, the special rapporteur stresses and criticizes the current trend towards a punitive rather than educational approach.
A series of detailed recommendations encouraging the French government, amongst other things, to define the areas of competence and responsibility and introduce a centralized, standardized reliable system for the collection and processing of data, are put forward. Regarding the legislative aspect, the special rapporteur recommends that the French government facilitate understanding and implementation of legislation by incorporating texts in a practical guide and highlights the need to opt for an educational approach rather than a punitive one. The aim of these recommendations is to stimulate movement towards genuine integration of the national child protection strategy in order to combat the causes and effects of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in France.