Human rights violations towards migrants at the French-UK border have significantly increased in recent years, according to a new report from Human Rights Observers (HRO), the Auberge des Migrants, and Help Refugees (Choose Love).
The research, published on Aug. 1, highlights that the number of evictions in the French city of Calais has more than doubled in 2019 alone, surging from 452 occurrences in 2018 to 961 the following year.
Due to their “intensity” and to their “repeated and daily nature”, these evictions constitute harassment and are contrary to fundamental human rights, according to the HRO.
“Today at its peak, this cynical and inhumane policy is consciously carried out in total contradiction to the fundamental values and rights upon which France, the so-called country of human rights, was built”, the report reads.
In 37% of cases from 2019, evictees were deprived of their material belongings by the French police forces, says the report. In 36% of cases, basic necessities — such as blankets, sleeping bags, and mattresses — were also seized by the authorities.
The report further indicates that a whopping 99.5% of these evictions are neither based on a clear legal basis nor followed by any offer of alternative accommodation. When a sheltering system is put in place, it adds, it is often inadequate or temporary, in an effort to “avoid fixation points” — a policy objective outlined in the Touquet agreement.
Human rights observers in Calais have produced a shocking new report. Please read and take action. It shows that nearly four years after the destruction of the Calais ‘jungle’ camp, the UK-France border regime has made the crisis experienced by refugees and displaced people in the area are less visible - but more violent. The report, co-published by The Human Rights Observers, @aubergedesmigrants and Choose Love / Help Refugees, shows that refugees and displaced face violent evictions, intimidation and destruction of property. We know that real change can only happen when barbed wire and aggressive policing are exchanged for the compassion, respect for human rights and the safe, legal routes that anyone would want for themselves and their families if they were forced to flee their homes. ————————— THIS IS HOW YOU CAN HELP. Get informed >>> Read the full report (link in bio) and follow the Human Rights Observers: www.twitter.com/HumanRightsObs Write to your MP >>> Use this info to write to your MP - let them know that it’s unacceptable people are treated like this on the UK’s doorstep. Donate >>> Help provide tents, blankets, clothing and vital services. Support groups like @CollectiveAidorg, @projectplayfrance, @refugee_womens_centre, @refugeeinfobus, @calais_food_collective and @the_woodyard_calais.
The agreement — a treaty signed by both France and the UK in 2004 — allows both countries to set up immigration control points and to carry out checks at their respective borders.
It has recently been subject to much criticism by the French human rights body — the Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme (CNCDH) — while other organizations, such as Amnesty International and Refugee Rights, have spoken against its implementation in a “lawless zone” where violence is normalized.
And while the long-term effects of COVID-19 on migrants have yet to be fully grasped, the pandemic could make matters worse by putting migrants at a greater risk of poverty and unsanitary living conditions.
“From January 2020 to July 2020, the cycle of evictions continues in Calais and Grande-Synthe, as was also the case during the health crisis of the global COVID-19 pandemic,” the afternote of the report reads. “With 708 evictions since January 2020, fundamental rights are disregarded every day at the UK-French border.”
On July 10, 516 migrants were also evicted by the authorities following a police raid in Calais. The intervention was one of the biggest operations of its kind since the closure of the city's so-called "Jungle" camp in 2016, according to the Independent.
The HRO is asking for a revision of the Touquet agreement, along with immediate action to end all forms of police harassment. It is also demanding the implementation of effective housing solutions for displaced people living in Calais.