France - Administrative Tribunal of Lille, 2 November 2015, Association MEDECINS DU MONDE et al., No. 1508747

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
02-11-2015
Citation:
Administrative Tribunal of Lille, 2 November 2015, Association MEDECINS DU MONDE et al., No. 1508747
Court Name:
Administrative Tribunal of Lille (Jean-François Molla, judge for “emergency interim relief measures”)
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
France - Code of Administrative Justice Article L.521-2
France - Code of Administrative Justice L.761-1
France - General Code of Local Authorities L.2215-1
France - Code of Social and Family Action L.345-2-2
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Headnote: 

The Applicants asked the Administrative Tribunal of Lille (the “Tribunal”) to order the relevant authorities to take urgent interim relief measures to guarantee the fundamental freedoms of the population of the Calais camp.

The Administrative Judge  acceded to several of the applicants’ demands (identification of vulnerable minors, hygiene, cleanliness, emergency vehicle access) and held that the situation in the Calais camp constituted a grave and blatantly illegal breach of the right of the persons residing there not to be subjected to degrading and inhuman treatment.

Facts: 

Faced with an ever larger outpouring in Calais of migrants only trying to reach Great Britain, French national and local public authorities have opened in the Calais suburbs the Jules Ferry centre in April 2015. This shelter provides living accommodations for about 120 women and children. Around this centre, an illegal camp made up of various precarious living accommodation now presents a population of about 6000 persons (including 300 women and 50 children). The majority of these persons do not have the status of refugees nor have they requested it.

The Applicants are Médecins du Monde and Secours Catholique-France, whose purpose is, among others, to provide aid to refugees, as well as six migrants whose identities and nationalities have not been disclosed.

The Applicants made requests pursuant to the procedure referred to as “liberty-emergency interim relief measures”.

The Applicants made the following requests:

A.

1. Order any appropriate measures to prevent grave and blatantly illegal breaches of the fundamental freedoms of population of the Calais camp near the Jules Ferry centre.

B. Order the referenced authorities to take the following actions with respect to the population of the Calais camp, within 48 hours and apply a penalty payment of 100 euros/day in the event of delay:

2. The prefect of Pas-de-Calais to:

2.1. guarantee them the right to emergency accommodation and access to accommodation under article L2215-1§4 of the general code of local authorities ;

2.2. ensure the registration of their asylum requests and direct them to an accommodation centre;

2.3. establish a permanent presence of public and private information providers for asylum seekers;

2.4. publish an information notice on the asylum procedure in two local newspapers;

3. The prefect of Pas-de-Calais and the mayor of the city of Calais to:

3.1. conduct an inventory of public building resources so that unoccupied buildings can be designated as temporary and emergency accommodation;

3.2. offer persons living in the camp emergency accommodation solutions without delay;

3.3. offer at least two daily meal services;

3.4. ensure the physical care of patients in the health facilities of Calais;

3.5. immediately put extremely vulnerable persons under protection;

3.6. put in place a security process;

3.7. set up hygiene and safety equipment in the Calais camp (including sanitation works);

4. The prefect of Pas-de-Calais and the director of the Regional Health Agency (“RHA”) of Nord-Pas-de-Calais to:

4.1. allocate health facilities to deal with the population of the camp’s needs;

4.2. ensure the creation of a place for healthcare;

4.3. ensure the creation of a mobile team of healthcare and social services professionals.

Decision & Reasoning: 

The Administrative Tribunal (“the Tribunal”) recognised the existence of an emergency situation. It held that, even though the camp is illegal and the persons living in it have no other goal than to reach Great Britain, and even though the number of persons in the camp increases every day, public authorities must ensure that the most basic rights of the persons living in the camp, which constitutes fundamental freedoms, are guaranteed.

A. Concerning the requests on the basis of the liberty-emergency interim relief measures

The so-called liberty-emergency interim relief measures (provided for in article L521-2 of the Administrative Justice Code) allow applicants to request an administrative judge to take useful emergency measures (within 48 hours) in case of a grave and blatantly illegal breach of a fundamental freedom.

The Administrative Tribunal considered that the Applicants’ requests for emergency accommodation, sanitation works and a system of information for asylum seekers fell outside the scope of this procedure because those problems could not be answered by useful emergency measures.

B. Concerning the breaches of the right to accommodation and the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment

1) Article L345-2-2 of the Code on Social and Family Action ensures access to accommodation and healthcare for most vulnerable persons. The Tribunal held that the Applicants’ requests on this ground fell within the scope of the liberty-emergency interim relief measures. This reasoning is based :

(i) the violation of the provisions of article L345-2-2 of the Code on Social and Family Action would constitute a grave and blatantly illegal breach of the right not to be subjected to an inhuman and degrading treatment ;

(ii) it would be possible to answer a breach of these provisions by ordering emergency measures.

However, the Tribunal noted that the prefect of Pas-de-Calais and the RHA of Nord-Pas-de-Calais had announced measures targeted at guaranteeing these rights except for a census of unaccompanied minors.

Consequently, the Tribunal held that the Applicants’ requests had to be rejected as groundless, provided that the announced measures were effectively carried out shortly. However, the Tribunal also held that there was a basis to order the prefect to carry out a census of all unaccompanied minors in a state of distress within 48 hours and contact the department of Pas-de-Calais to offer them a shelter.

2) The Tribunal  examined the Applicants’ requests meant to ensure the provision of meal services to the population of the camp. The Tribunal held that these requests had to be rejected because the relevant authorities had already taken measures to provide meal services.

3) With regard to requests related to the lack of waste collection services and access for emergency vehicles, the Tribunal stated that, due to a blatant lack of sufficient access to water and sanitation facilities, persons living in the camp were faced with insufficient care for their basic hygiene, drinking water and accommodation needs and they were exposed to health and safety risks (contracting diseases due to a lack of proper hygiene conditions) and danger in case of an emergency situation.

The Tribunal reasoned that this constituted a grave and blatantly illegal breach of their right not to be subjected to degrading and inhuman treatment.

Consequently, the Tribunal ordered the prefect of Pas-de-Calais and the city of Calais to install new drinking water and hygiene equipment and a system to collect waste as well as ensure access for emergency services, within 8 days after the notification of the Tribunal’s decision and with the application of a penalty payment of 100 euros/day in the event of delay.

C. Concerning the breaches of asylum provisions

The Tribunal noted that the State showed no blatant lack of action concerning the provision of information to the population of the camp, as evidenced by various information channels.

Similarly, the Tribunal reasoned that the State showed no blatant lack of action in the treatment of asylum requests.

Therefore, it held that the Applicants had failed to demonstrate that the means of information on asylum and the treatment of asylum requests were insufficient.

The Tribunal therefore rejected the Applicants’ requests made on this ground.

D. Concerning the right to security

The Tribunal stated that the State ensured the security of the population of the camp through police patrols and special, on-the-spot monitoring of specific risks, and, therefore, the Tribunal held that the State showed no blatant lack of action in this area. The Tribunal therefore rejected the Applicants’ requests made on this ground.

Outcome: 

The Tribunal partially granted the Applicants’ requests by ordering a census of unaccompanied minors in a state of distress within 48 hours of notification of the Tribunal’s decision and the execution of works in order to achieve better hygiene and safety conditions within 8 days of the judgment with the application of a penalty payment of 100 euros/day in the event of delay.

The Tribunal rejected the other requests.

Subsequent Proceedings : 

Council of State, 23 November 2015, Association Médecins du Monde et al., No. 394540: rejected all appeals by public authorities and associations : confirmed entirely the decision of the Administrative Tribunal of Lille.

Observations/Comments: 

On 19 February 2016, the prefect of Pas-de-Calais ordered the removal of the persons residing in the so-called “South Zone” of the Calais camp in order to carry out the census of unaccompanied minors and the sanitation works ordered by the Tribunal in this case (judgement no. 1508747). The order was challenged before the Administrative Tribunal of Lille by various applicant associations.

By a judgment on 25 February 2016, M. Sharifi A et al., no. 1601386, the Administrative Tribunal of Lille (V. Quemener, judge for liberty-emergency interim relief measures) partly suspended the execution of the order of the prefect in so far as it concerns  “living areas”. The order of the prefect in response to this judgment was, therefore, partially suspended  until a judgement on the merits of the order was issued.

Consequently, the removal of the population of the “South Zone” of the camp (save for the living areas) was authorised.

The judgement partially suspending the order of the prefect was appealed by various associations before the Council of State on 26 February 2016.

This case summary was written by Linklaters LLP.