Police harassement of migrants in Calais

Police harassement of migrants in Calais noted by the Human Rights Defender. Unacceptable denial by the Minister of the Interior

The reaction of the Minister of the Interior to the decision of 13 November 2012 by the Human Rights Defender concerning police harassement and human rights violations to which the migrants in Calais have been subjected for several years has been made public: after four months…..

The Human Rights Defender, after an investigation which took over a year, noted:

  • repeated identity document checks, arrest and detainment at brief intervals of the same person at the police station in Conquelles [seat of the PAF – French border police – which is located five or six kilometers from Calais, a distance that must be covered on foot to get back to the city];
  • police interventions in the vicinity of the meal and health care areas ;
  • transport to Conquelles by means of police vehicles of groups of people including legally resident foreigners, such as documented asylum seekers, acts which constitute infringements to the right of freedom of movement ;
  • repeated visits at any time of the day or night to living facilities, as well as provocative or humiliating behavior toward migrants by individual members of the police corps ;
  • destruction of materials provided by humanitarian groups as well as of personal effects ;
  • illegal expulsion of migrants from their shelters

The response of the Minister of the Interior seems to consider that this permanent harassment, which has been going on since the Sangatte camp was destroyed in 2002, is only in the minds of a few people – us: « The points set out in your decision, he objects, are based essentially on declarations made by representatives of associations which quote non-verifiable statements concerning events which took place some time ago which cannot be supported by any objective facts today. In addition only a minority of the organisations which were associated with the inquiry are effectively present and actively working with the migrants in the region of Calais. ».

The Minister of the Interior seems to be especially attached to « respect of the law by the agents under his authority », « implementation of judicial decisions » and particularly attentive « to the quality of relations between the police and the population» ; and, in addition, from now on, « the police invite the associations to join expulsion operations to assist the migrants ».

Thus, not only is the inquiry carried out by the services of the Defender of Human Rights insignificant and biased, but the twenty-some organisations which called for the investigation by the Defender of Human Rights in June 2011 are also guilty of making untrue statements? Others are also probably guilty as well, such as the Commissioner of the Council of Europe Human Rights [1] , the authors of documented reports of the French National Commission for the Right of Asylum [Coordination nationale du droit d’asile (CFDA)] [2], the Migreurop network [3], as well as those who undertook the joint investigation of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) together with the European Association for the Defense of Human Rights, the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) and the Antiracist Group for accompaniment of foreigners and migrants (GADEM) [4]?

Unless, in his dedicated battle to « effectively » fight illegal immigration and to stop « reconstitution of squats and unauthorised camps in the Calais region», the Minister of the Interior - who goes so far as to dare to suggest that it is the foreigners themselves who might be responsible for the reported abuses such as repeated identity check which are only due to the fact that they keep moving around on the same day !– has chosen close his eyes and to deny an unacceptable reality.

The report of the Defender of Human Rights, particularly devastating for the police, is worth more than a whitewash inquiry by the Inspectorate-General of the National Police (ICPN) and an indignant response by a director of the cabinet of the Minister.

The situation of these migrants, who are only here because they have fled war and insecurity in their countries and come in search of protection, merits more than a few humanitation arrangements of pure appearance.

A few meetings or a deontological code which is having a hard time getting written will not stop the police abuse in the Calais region. It is the duty of a Minister of the Government to do everything is his power to cast light on the malfunctioning denounced by the Defender of Human Rights and to ensure that the values of our democracy prevail in every circumstance.

Paris, April 12 2013


Association européenne pour la défense des droits de l’homme (AEDH) - Auberge des migrants (Calais) - Calais Migrant Solidarity - Collectif de soutien des exilés Paris - Fédération des associations de solidarité avec les travailleur•euse•s immigré•e•s - Fédération internationale des droits de l’homme (FIDH) - Fraternité Migrants bassin Minier 62 - Groupe Accueil et Solidarité (GAS) - Groupe d’information et de soutien des immigré•e•s (GISTI) - Itinérance Cherbourg - Ligue des droits de l’homme (LDH) - Marmite aux idées (Calais) - Migreurop - Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP) -
Réseau euro-méditerranéen pour les droits de l’homme (REMDH) - Salam Nord/Pas-de-Calais - Syndicat de la magistrature (SM) - Terre d’errance Norrent-Fontes - Terre d’Errance Steenvoorde

Press contact: contact@migreurop.org