French police accused of abusing migrant children

Photo credit: AFP

TMP – 21/11/2017

French police are using extreme force against migrants in the northern city of Calais, including children, according to a new survey released by the Refugee Right Data Project. The report alleges that the use of force is so severe that migrant children have had their bones broken on multiple occasions.

One 16-year-old migrant from Eritrea says he was badly beaten by French police while trying to get on a truck headed to the UK.
“When I tried to get on a truck, the police found me and started punching me in the face…I haven’t received any care from anyone since then,” he said.

A 17-year-old from South Sudan recalled his experience. “The police beat me with a baton, which gave me cuts across the hands and chipped my front tooth,” he said. “They also sprayed tear gas into my eyes.”

The report also quotes a 35-year-old man who says he was so badly beaten by the police as he made his way to a food distribution point that they broke his bones.

In total, 233 migrants were interviewed for the report, including 94 children aged as young as 12, most of whom had experienced varying degrees of violence and abuse at the hands of the French authorities.

A 17-year-old girl from Eritrea said that police drove her to a remote location and abandoned her there. She didn’t know where she was and had to walk three hours in the middle of night to get back to Calais.

Meanwhile, allegations around police abuse in migrant detention centers also continue to circulate as migrants complain of being beaten and deprived of food, water and toilet facilities.

Maddie Harris, who led the research, believes that French police consistently behave violently toward migrants.
“Officers, particularly the riot police, appear to have no issue subjecting vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, to repeated exposure to tear gas, beatings and repeated destruction and confiscation of possessions such as sleeping bags, blankets, phones and shoes,” she told The Independent newspaper.

When confronted with the allegations, the local authority for the Calais region did not respond to them directly. Instead, the authority referred to a previous statement stating that police chiefs in the region should remind officers of the regulations they must comply with.