Human rights organization: French police attack migrants “systematically”

The coalition of French associations specialized in the “Access to Rights” file confirmed the repeated acts of verbal and physical violence committed against migrants as police were dismantling informal camps in the Ile-de-France region in France, noting that migrants are subjected to “systematic attacks” by the police.

In its report on “police and institutional” violence against migrants in France, the coalition, which includes volunteers from associations, lawyers and specialized researchers, documented more violent dismantling of migrant camps, explaining that this is “a strategy followed by the authorities with the aim of permanently discouraging migrants from settling on the streets,” as the 2024 Olympic Games approach.

According to what was reported by the “InfoMigrants” website, the coalition has documented, since 2015, verbal or physical violence associated with the evacuations of migrant camps in the Ile-de-France region, adding that of the 93 exiles interviewed, 81% declared that they had been victims of police violence. While 66% of them declared that they had been exposed to violence on several occasions.

The group collected 448 testimonies about police violence over eight years, 88% of which resulted from cases of “dismantling and dispersal in public places,” and a third of the testimonies collected related to physical violence, ranging from a simple kick to beatings, and another third related to the confiscation or destruction of property.

Physical attacks range from kicking or hitting with batons, in addition to forcing migrants to collect their belongings more quickly, and rare cases of documented beatings have been recorded, according to what a coalition official told Agence France-Presse.

The report stated that “the vast majority of violent acts occurred in northeastern Paris, in the 18th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements and the municipalities adjacent to the 93rd district,” noting that this violence “remains largely undocumented, because it occurs in isolated places, and at unseen times. This makes it difficult to collect evidence to consider taking legal action.”

Members of the coalition decided to launch this documentary project after the violent dispersal of the unofficial camp in Republic Square, where nearly 500 migrants, the vast majority of them Afghans, were sleeping on November 24, 2020.

In the face of violent photos and political protests, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin described what happened as “unacceptable” and announced the opening of two investigations on charges of “violence by a person holding a position of public authority.”

For his part, President Emmanuel Macron vowed to impose “punishments” on the guilty police officers.

But according to the group Access to Rights, police violence in migrant camps has increased since this incident.

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