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France: Systematic Immigration Detention further Undermines Rights

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France continues to use immigration detention routinely and broadly, according to the annual report published by six civil society organisations present in the country’s detention centres.

According to statistics published by the organisations, 43,609 people were placed in an administrative detention centre (CRA) in 2018. Of those, 24,912 were detained in mainland France and 18,697 in Mayotte and other overseas territories. Several hundred persons were also placed in a place of administrative detention (LRA), where detention is applied for a maximum of 48 hours.

The main countries of origin of people subject to immigration detention on the mainland were Algeria (3,640), Albania (2,451), Morocco (2,286), Tunisia (2,128), Romania (1,366) and Afghanistan (892)

The detention of children continues to increase, according to the organisations. 1,429 children were detained in 2018, of which 1,221 (85%) in Mayotte, where the authorities unlawfully “attach” children to unrelated adults. In mainland France, 208 children in 114 families were detained for an average period of two days, of which 51 in Metz, 42 in Mesnil-Amelot and 10 in Toulouse.

Detention under the Dublin Regulation was applied to 3,857 persons, most coming from Afghanistan, Sudan and Guinea. As the 2018 reform has permitted the use of detention pending the determination of the Member State responsible for an asylum application, many asylum seekers have been detained for a 15-day period while the Prefectures await the reply from the requested country, prolonged by several weeks to organise the transfer.

The extension of the maximum duration of detention from 45 to 90 days has made authorities less diligent in the treatment of return procedures, according to NGO’s observations in the first months of 2019. This is due to the fact that the administration can maintain people in detention for longer periods, whereas, prior to the reform, it returned most persons within 20 days of detention. On average, the duration of detention in CRA has risen from 12.8 days in 2017 to 14.6 in 2018. However, the number of people detained for more than one month has increased to 4,432 last year.

Finally, the report expresses concerns about France’s steadily increasing detention infrastructure, with an additional 480 places made available in CRA such as Mesnil-Amelot, Palaiseau and Plaisir in Paris, Nîmes, Vincennes and Lyon, as well as the reopening of CRA in Strasbourg and Hendaye. Prefectures have also been instructed to fill more places in the CRA, leading to high occupancy rates and tensions in certain centres.