Migrants at a camp in Calais, France | Photo: EPA/Sebastien Courdji
Migrants at a camp in Calais, France | Photo: EPA/Sebastien Courdji

In northern France, migrants seeking to cross the Channel to England face a 'daily harassment and humiliation', according to a report published by Human Rights Watch.

Daily expulsions, confiscated belongings and destroyed tents are part of France's "policy of dissuasion" towards migrants seeking to reach Great Britain through "daily harassment and humiliation", the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report published on Thursday (October 7).

In migrant camps in Calais, Grande-Synthe and the surrounding area, police officers subject migrants to "periodic mass expulsions", with "routine operations" forcing migrants to be constantly on the move, according to the non-governmental organization (NGO).

Police reportedly destroy migrants' tents

Security officers seize tents -- often cutting them into pieces so they can't be used anymore -- as well as other personal belonging, HRW said.

"These abusive practices further a deterrence policy under which officials seek to eliminate or avoid anything they view as drawing migrants to northern France or encouraging the establishment of encampments", said HRW.

The organization said that it investigated the situation on the ground from October until December 2020, then in June and July 2021, interviewing some 60 migrants.

'Daily humiliation and harassment'

HRW quoted findings from Human Rights Observers, a group that monitors police evictions of encampments on the northern French coast. According to them, police officers have carried out over 950 expulsion operations in Calais and 90 in Grande-Synthe since 2020. Some 5,000 tents and tarps were reportedly seized, along with hundreds of sleeping bags and blankets.

"Subjecting people to daily harassment is never justifiable," said Bénédicte Jeannerod, France director at Human Rights Watch."If the aim is to discourage migrants from gathering in northern France, these policies are a manifest failure and result in serious harm".


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