HomeNews'Detention centers have become places where human rights are systematically violated and...

    ‘Detention centers have become places where human rights are systematically violated and dignity seriously undermined’

    Since 1984, French NGO La Cimade has been active in detention centers where foreigners under threat of expulsion by local authorities are detained. Initially, detention in France was meant to last seven days, but after a law was passed in 2018 incarceration can now stretch to three months.

    Any undocumented person, including families with children as well as European nationals, can be locked up in places that are little known to the general public and are akin to prisons. Despite being reported on regularly, administrative detention centers (CRA) have become places where human rights are systematically violated and dignity seriously undermined.

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    We are daily witnesses to the State’s abusive practices, and we strongly denounce here the conditions in which people are arrested, locked up, and then expelled.

    Racial profiling, irregular administrative procedures, failure to take vulnerability into account, violent expulsions and people being locked up every day despite a clear violation of their fundamental rights are often practiced with the consent of the courts.

    Arbitrary incarceration

    Prefectures lock people up as a systematic procedure without examining, even superficially, their individual situation, which can lead to arbitrary detention. In January 2023 alone, more than half of the placement procedures in the CRAs where La Cimade intervenes were declared irregular by a judge.

    The systematic conflict of immigration and delinquency has led to the authorities locking up and expelling any foreigner who represents a “threat to public order.” Just one reading of these administrative decisions reveals the absurdity of this notion: for example, someone spitting in the street; slowing down traffic; looking around “suspiciously,” and even a victim of an assault who has called the police can be considered a threat to public order.

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    In order to feed the expulsion machine, and at the risk of endangering the lives of the people they wish to expel, prefectures contact the consular authorities of countries that do not respect human rights. For example, the French government has transmitted the identities of Syrian asylum seekers to Bashar Al-Assad’s government, despite having broken off diplomatic relations with Damascus.

    The Sudanese authorities were also contacted about people whose fears have been acknowledged, and the Iranian authorities about an opponent of their regime. Steps have been taken to deport people back to Somalia, Iraq, Eritrea, South Sudan and Haiti, with no thought to the alarming security situation in those countries.

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