Exiles and fundamental rights: the situation in the territory of Calais



In publishing this report, the elements of which were gathered in the course of two missions conducted by the Defender of Rights’ officials on 16th and 17th June and 20th July 2015, in the midst of an ever-changing situation, the Defender of Rights is not unaware of the daily problems faced by those in charge of elaborating and implementing public policies, whether with regard to maintaining the vital economic and social balance or ensuring our fellow citizens’ protection in the face of the risks presented by international crises and security measures.

However, by virtue of the duties entrusted to him by the Constitution and the legislature, the Defender of Rights has full authority to establish the actual reasons for existing situations and assess whether they are in accordance with the very ambitious objectives that our country has set itself with regard to the protection of fundamental rights.

The massive arrivals of population groups on our continent call for collective rethinking of the way in which the movement of people, the fight against human trafficking and the reception of those obliged to leave their countries of origin should be organised at the European level.

Although Calais represents a unique phenomenon of its kind, it nevertheless illustrates the limits of action based upon a national – not to say local – approach, aimed at organising “the policing of foreigners”, at a time when we are faced with an entirely unprecedented situation, calling for far-reaching responses at the international level.

There are many obstacles and innovative approaches are being paralysed by electoral pressures throughout Europe.

It is not the Defender of Rights’ role to assert its own preferences concerning the conduct of public affairs, for which responsibility is exclusively incumbent upon the authorities. On the other hand, it has a duty to constantly recall the lines that should never be crossed, representing our fundamental values and resulting from the rights held by every individual by virtue of the sole fact of their membership of the human community.

The situation is extremely sensitive and it is therefore necessary to reject caricatures and unjustified simplifications. The problems require not only humanitarian action, but also political responses. The Defender of Rights can only hope that this report contributes to the elaboration of a pertinent analysis for those who are called upon to take action.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Jacques Toubon