Toll-free phone numbers and slashed waiting times for an appointment with asylum application services… Those are just some of the recommendations that Paris’s administrative court on Tuesday handed the French government in a bid to improve the Paris region’s failing migrant services.
In its ruling, the Administrative court in Paris ordered Ofii, the agency in charge of immigration and integration, to resume its negotiations with Arcep, the French telecommunications and postal regulatory body, to ensure that any calls placed to its platform will be free of charge. The phone call is a mandatory step for migrants to set up a meeting in order to have their asylum applications processed.
23 asylum seekers and about a dozen French migrant aid groups, including Secours Catholique, la Cimade and Utopia 56, had demanded an emergency hearing after being unable to reach the platform. The court also ordered police to register the claimants’ asylum applications within 10 days.
#DroitdAsile | Suite à l’action en justice de pls asso dont la #LDH, le tribunal enjoint l’@OFII_France:— LDH France (@LDH_Fr) 26 novembre 2019
☛ d’enregistrer les ddes d’asile sous 10jours
☛ d’augmenter le nbre de RDV Guda
☛ de mettre en place une gratuité effective des appels vers sa plateforme tel avec l’Arcep pic.twitter.com/eCkfLI43wE
In its ruling, the court said that the long waiting times to reach the platform, and the need to often repeat calls in order to get through, results in “a particularly high cost which constitutes a real and very serious obstacle when it comes to the access to asylum application services, and is a very serious and illegal breach to the right to asylum.” To remedy this, the court demanded that phone calls to the platform should be made free of charge.
Contacted by InfoMigrants, Ofii said it had “again” contacted Arcep in order to make these phone calls free.
In addition, the court ordered police to temporarily increase the number of meetings at its 12 asylum application services offices (Guda) in Paris, to 100 per day from 81 per day.
Given that “the number of asylum applications in the Paris region – which represents almost half of the asylum applications nationwide – is constantly increasing, the current situation in Paris can only deteriorate unless Guda increases its reception capacities,” the court ruled.