Defenders of migrants stand up against the confinement of foreigners in France

Detention centers that take on the appearance of prisons, poorly supervised deprivations of liberty: defenders of migrants denounce the French “obsession” with the confinement of foreigners, victims according to them of a “hardening” which frees itself from the right. In four years, France has doubled its reception capacity in administrative detention centers (CRA), where illegal immigrants are locked up pending their deportation. A multiplication of places of confinement which is accompanied by a “hardening of the borders of the law”, summarized Paul Chiron, an official of the Observatory for the confinement of foreigners (OEE), during a conference Monday evening on the subject. Chance of the calendar, the last born of the Cra opened its doors on Monday, in Lyon. Fences, barbed wire: we are witnessing a “‘carceralization’ of places of detention”, observed for his part Olivier Clochard, geographer and member of the Migreurop collective. Everything in the operation of these places, “reminiscent of prison systems”, estimated this specialist in the subject. For him, the extension of the maximum duration of detention, increased from 45 to 90 days under the asylum and immigration law of 2018, “has led to trivializing these methods of confinement” and allows “to move towards a form of criminalization of immigration”. As in prisons, where there are isolation quarters, the Cra have their cells “of confinement in confinement”, “a particularly poorly supervised device”, denounced during the OEE conference Maud Hoestlandt, Director of Legal Affairs of the Controller General of Places of Deprivation of Liberty (CGLPL, independent French administrative authority responsible for monitoring the conditions of care for detainees and other confined persons). For these people locked up solely for their administrative situation, it is “a time conducive to attacks on dignity and fundamental rights”, underlined Ms Hoestlandt, distributing photos of cells equipped with a simple mattress placed on a block of tiled concrete and toilets, “like in police custody”. In a column published Monday on the Liberation website, a group of associations, intellectuals and personalities also called for closing the “waiting zones” at the borders, places – as there are for example in the Paris airport of Roissy-Charles de Gaulle in the north of Paris– where thousands of foreigners are locked up each year awaiting their return or their admission to the territory. “If the conditions of entry or stay are not met, we sort, we lock up, we send back”, list the signatories of the platform, in particular carried by Anafé (National Association of Border Assistance for Foreigners) . “Through their practices, the French authorities daily violate fundamental rights in the name of an obsession with confinement,” they wrote. Objective, according to the authors of the forum: “To excite fears and instill in public opinion the idea that foreigners represent a danger”. At the borders, in particular at that which separates France from Italy, “the right of asylum is made inaccessible by confinement”, also deplored Judith Marcou, doctoral student at the EHESS, who works on the situation in the police premises at the borders of Menton (south) and Montgenèvre (southeast). People are “locked up in adjoining modular buildings and deprived of their freedom outside any legal framework”, assured the one who is also an “observer” for Anafé. In the end, according to her, if the confinement is systematic and problematic, another notion “prime especially” at the borders of France: “refoulement” out of the country.

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