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France Human Rights

Migrants' rights, refugees and asylum-seekers

In May, the Minister of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Mutually Supportive Development pursued a reform which could restrict the role of the six NGOs nominated to work in migration detention centres. The NGO Cimade launched legal challenges against the measure due to concerns that it would limit their role to providing information only and prevent them from giving legal assistance to detained migrants. In November, the Council of State upheld the reform.

In September, the Minister of Immigration stated that 20 million euros had been secured to build a new migration detention centre in the French overseas territory of Mayotte. However, no timeline was given for its construction.

Photographs had been published anonymously in December 2008 showing the severe overcrowding and poor hygiene inside the existing centre.

On 22 September, approximately 300 migrants and asylum-seekers living in encampments around Calais, believed to be mostly Afghans trying to reach the UK, were detained by police. Their makeshift homes were demolished by bulldozers. According to police statements, 140 adults were taken into police custody and transferred to migration detention centres; 132 minors were taken to special accommodation centres. At the end of the year it was reported that all of the adults had been released; many were believed to have returned to the destroyed camps in Calais. Most of those released were left without shelter as a result of the destruction. Some were later granted asylum and others had asylum claims pending at the end of the year. The rest remained in France without regular status, at constant risk of being forcibly returned to their countries of origin. Further police operations against smaller encampments around Calais took place between October and December.

Three Afghan nationals, one of them detained at Calais, were forcibly returned to Afghanistan in October.

Counter-terror and security

On 3 December, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in Daoudi v. France that deporting a man convicted of terrorism offences to Algeria would put him at risk of torture or other ill-treatment, and would be in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Guantánamo Bay detainees

France granted residency to two Algerian nationals, Lakhdar Boumediene and Saber Lahmar, who had been detained at the US detention centre in Guantánamo Bay. Both men were cleared of all charges against them by a US judge in November 2008 but could not return to Algeria due to the risk of serious human rights violations. In May, Lakhdar Boumediene arrived in France and was joined by his wife and children. Saber Lahmar arrived in France in December.

France Newsroom



November 5, 2018 • Press Release

Arrest warrants for Syrian officials in France an important step towards justice

Responding to the news that French prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for three senior Syrian government and intelligence officials on charges of torture, enforced disappearances, crimes against humanity and war crimes, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research Anna Neistat said: “These arrest warrants for three senior officials, including a top adviser to President Bashar al-Assad, …

October 14, 2018 • Press Release

A year after Raqqa, US-led Coalition’s ongoing denials an insult to survivors

The US-led Coalition’s ongoing failure to admit to, let alone adequately investigate, the shocking scale of civilian deaths and destruction it caused in Raqqa is a slap in the face for survivors trying to rebuild their lives and their city, said Amnesty International a year after the offensive to oust the armed group calling itself …

September 25, 2018 • Press Release

France: Criminal conviction for a tweet will have chilling effect on migrant rights defenders

Following the conviction of Loan Torondel, a human rights defender charged with defamation for a tweeted photograph of policemen standing over one of the many people systematically evicted from informal camps in Calais, Nicolas Krameyer, Programme Manager at Amnesty International France, said: “This is outrageous decision sets a dangerous precedent for anybody attempting to document the disproportionate …

August 21, 2018 • Press Release

Amnesty International USA Calls Upon Department of Defense to Investigate Civilian Casualties

The Department of Defense should investigate thoroughly all claims of civilian casualties caused by its Raqqa offensive as well as all US military operations going forward Amnesty International urged in a letter to Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis following the US-led Coalition’s acknowledgement of 77 civilian casualties as a result of military operations in Raqqa. …

August 14, 2018 • Press Release

Italy/Malta: Stop playing with refugee and migrants’ lives by closing ports

Responding to news that the authorities in Italy and Malta have closed their ports to Aquarius MV, a rescue ship run by SOS Mediterranee, with 141 people aboard, including 73 children, Maria Serrano, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner on Migration, said: “European governments must stop playing with human lives. Italy and Malta’s disgraceful refusal to allow refugees and migrants …

July 26, 2018 • Press Release

US Coalition Efforts to Ensure Accountability for Civilian Deaths are a Welcome First Step, But More Clarity Necessary

The US-led coalition has today issued a press release accepting responsibility for all civilian deaths documented in Amnesty International’s June 5th report into the aerial bombardment of Raqqa. Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, said: “After weeks of obfuscation and denials, the US-led coalition has finally admitted responsibility for the deaths of approximately …

June 4, 2018 • Report

Syria: Raqqa in ruins and civilians devastated after US-led ‘war of annihilation’

From amid the rubble of Raqqa, civilians are asking why US-led Coalition forces destroyed the city, killing hundreds of civilians in the process of “liberating” them from the armed group calling itself “Islamic State” (IS), Amnesty International said in a new report ahead of the offensive’s anniversary. Amnesty International researchers visited 42 Coalition air strike …

May 18, 2018 • Press Release

Global Wikipedia edit-a-thon shines spotlight on the unsung women defending human rights around the world

Wikipedia enthusiasts from around the world are joining forces on 19 and 20 May 2018 to take part in a global edit-a-thon to shine a spotlight on extraordinary unsung women human rights defenders who have devoted their lives to fighting injustice. BRAVE:Edit, a collaboration between Amnesty International and Wikimedia (Wikipedia’s non-profit organization), will see hundreds …

April 23, 2018 • Press Release

France: New bill fails to address challenges faced by migrants and asylum seekers

Responding to the passing of an asylum and immigration bill that will tighten asylum rules, Cécile Coudriou, President of Amnesty International France, declares: “This bill, and the discussions around its text, fails to address the difficulties faced by migrants and asylum seekers in France and the need to fully respect their rights. Those drafting this bill missed …

November 17, 2017 • Press Release

USA, UK and France risk complicity in collective punishment of civilians in Yemen

The USA, UK and France must immediately cease supplying arms to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting in Yemen, which is impeding humanitarian assistance of items indispensable to the survival of civilians, said Amnesty International today. According to the UN and humanitarian agencies food and medicine are being blocked and vital supplies will run out in a matter of weeks.