A report on fundamental rights violations in Calais and Grande-Synthe was published this week amid new reports on pushbacks from France to Italy.

In its report of 12 February, the Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme (National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, CNCDH) denounced the ongoing fundamental rights violations with regard to exiles in Calais and Grande-Synthe and further emphasised the situation of “extreme destitution” in which migrants find themselves due to the daily evictions. The Commission insisted that it is a “humanitarian imperative” that the dismantling of makeshift camps needs to be accompanied by shelter solutions, “given the distress and extreme destitution” of the migrants, who are subject to a “denial of existence”. Geneviève Colas, one of the rapporteurs of the report, emphasised that the current deterrent policies are unsustainable, do not provide sufficient solutions and are accompanied by systemic violence: “We never talk about it, but every three days we have the equivalent of what happened at Place de la République (in Paris)where the violent dismantling of tents by the police in late November sparked outrage. Journalists are still blocked from reporting on the situation in Calais.

In the past week, more incidents have surfaced regarding pushbacks from France towards Italy, at the Alpine border. Migrants report that the French border police refuse to register their applications for international protection and immediately send them back to Italy, with the assistance of Italian police. Paul, a Cameroonian national, finally managed to cross the Alps into France, after a first attempt had been unsuccessful: “The first time I tried to cross the border, I was stopped by the border police. I pleaded with them: ‘Let me enter [France], I want to ask for asylum’. But they told me: ‘No, you can’t apply for asylum here’. […] They did send me back to Italy immediately. An Italian car came to pick me up that same evening.”

Pâquerette Forest, the co-president of the association Tous Migrants, denounced these practices: “Refusals are very frequent here […] What usually happens is that the police arrests migrants in the mountains in France, take them to the [police] office in Montgenèvre and give them [the official orders to leave France]. Then they call the Italian police who come to bring the migrants back to Italy […] All this takes place in less than 5 hours.”

French MEP Damien Carême denounced on Twitter the treatment of an Afghan family, with three minor children aged 4, 6 and 15. The family had come to Italy through the Balkans, where they were subject to alarming treatment in Croatia. From Italy they continued their journey to France, where they were picked up by French law enforcement and reportedly denied medical assistance at the police station. The family was ultimately pushed back to Italy in the middle of the night. Immediately after their arrival in Italy, the mother gave birth to a child.

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Photo by Radek Homola on Unsplash

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.