Human Rights Watch reveals constant abuses of migrants in Calais

Riot police at the Jungle in Calais, France Riot police at the Jungle in Calais, France Mauricio Lima/ New York Time

25 August 2017
As stated by HRW, police in Calais threatened and used pepper spray on asylum seekers and their personal belongings.

The Compagnies républicaines de sécurité, working in the region of Pas-De-Calais, have been charged of using  pepper spray on a daily basis on children and adults who are asleep and do not represent a threat. Police officers frequently seize migrants’ sleeping bags, clothing and blankets, or alternatively contaminate their food and water. This behaviour aims to push asylum seekers away from the area, but it violates the international standards of  police conduct.

The report, named “Like Living in Hell: Police Abuses Against Child and Adult Migrants in Calais”, is based on interviews with more than 60 asylum seekers, including 31 unaccompanied children, in Calais and Dunkerque during the previous months. Aid workers confirmed these abuses, and tried to record them but  their phones and cameras were confiscated.

“Authorities should send a clear message that police harassment or other abuse of power will not be tolerated,” HRW’s France Director, Bénédicte Jeannerod declared. However, the deputy prefect for Calais denied any accuse against police.

The “Jungle of Calais” held between 6,000 and 10,000 asylum seekers and migrants, but it has been closed in October 2016 and currently there are about 400 people living around Calais and Dunkerque. In March 2017, humanitarian aid organizations were prevented from giving food, clothing, and blankets to migrants and asylum seekers. A court interrupted these orders, given by local authorities, since they perpetrated inhumane treatments. The French president Emmanuel Macron claimed his intention to overhaul the current asylum system in order to adopt a more humane and fairer process.


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