Thursday, 11 September 2008

The One That Is Saying 'Yes, I Bet They Bloody Do'. . .

Interesting news from France:

La Coordination française pour le droit d’asile (CFDA) published a report recently on the situation of migrants on the Channel and
North Sea coasts. The report, claims that “since the closure of Sangatte, Paris behaves as if the migrants have disappeared, and then when there’s a news item, a rape, they notice that there are still hundreds”. The report alleges that there are currently 450 or 500 migrants in the area. Céline Dallery a volunteer nurse with PASS says that the new UMP mayor’s migrant council must ask for temporary accommodation because “we can’t go on like this."

CDFA is an umbrella organisation speaking on behalf of 20 member organisations
(Amnesty International, Ligue des droits de l’homme, France Terre Asile, CIMADE and Secours Catholique et al) and other associate members. This is the charity adopted in 2008 by the British Embassy in Paris and in whose favour fundraising efforts are being directed.

Between January and August of this year, OFPRA, the French government department that deal with asylum claims, took in 27,000 applications. New(ish) Immigration Minister Hortefeux made his first visit to OFPRA on Tuesday. He said that not only did he consider asylum a "legal requirement" but also a "moral imperative". Le Figaro understands that the main thrust of this meeting is to create the asylum "support office" to which the 27 EU countries have already given their support. At first this institution will only provide an exchange of information with no operational role, but
Le Figaro goes on to say that this is considered a victory by Paris (because the Germans had earlier rejected the move) whose long term objective is to harmonise the conditions for granting asylum status.

A French government sponsored report has 12 recommendations some of which are very similar to a document (which is in French) entitled “10 basic requirements for a proper asylum law” which CFDA has been pushing since October 2001. The major ones are the abolition of The
Dublin Convention and the right of asylum seekers to choose where they lodge their claim.

Now, scrapping the Dublin Convention is a fine and dandy idea, to my mind it is one the reasons why UK Passport Control and freight searching operations (watch UK Border Force, Sky One on a Tuesday night) have moved to northern France for the south east Channel ports. You'd have thought that being found in a HGV or coming off a bus that can only have come from France would mean that an individual could be returned there. 'Oh no', say the French, 'there must be documentary evidence that they have been in France.' So if they make it across the channel, we're stuck with them. Remove the requirement for documentary evidence and we can bounce them back on the next boat very easily. What it amounts to is this, the 1951 Geneva Convention says that anyone seeking refugee status must seek asylum in the first safe country they come to. There's even a list. All EU states are safe, so anyone who turns up from a safe third country and claims can, in theory, be returned to have their asylum claim considered there. Dublin makes it difficult unless the asylum seeker is carrying a passport, (unlikely in a HGV, or forged our counterfeit if they've decided to use a more traditional method of transport), is carrying official paperwork from that third country, or has been fingerprinted in a third country and is listed on EURODAC. So it's not as easy as you would think.

As for giving the asylum seekers the right to nominate the country that will hear their claim, well, who do you think they'll pick? Mind you it is our own fault, if we didn't make the UK so attractive, or perhaps more accurately, our courts didn't make judgements that penalise the majority, law-abiding population and make the UK such an attractive prospect, we wouldn't be in the shit that we now find ourselves.

Now the French have the EU presidency, we can expect a lot more of this. Ain't the EU great?

Well, no. Not really.

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