France: interim relief judge rejects call for continued food and drinks distribution in the center of Calais

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

On 22 September 2020, the French Administrative Tribunal of Lille ruled that there was no urgency to suspend the execution of the Pas-de-Calais Prefect’s decree (Arrêté) of 10 September 2020, which prohibits the distribution of free drinks and food products in certain parts of the city center of Calais to prevent health risks and public disorder.

The city of Calais hosts between 1000 and 1200 migrants, distributed over 3 city sectors. Since August 2020, there had been a clear increase of migrants moving towards the city center, which led some associations to organize daily food and drink distributions closer to the migrants’ homes in the city center. Since 2018, the State has also organized such distributions, albeit further away from the city center. On 8 September 2020, the prefect of Pas-de-Calais interpellated the mayor of Calais to take the necessary police measures to stop the distributions in the city center, on grounds of public order, which the mayor refused. Ultimately, the prefect adopted a Decree that prohibits the distribution of free drinks and food products between 11 and 30 September 2020 in one part of the city. Subsequently, the applicants, the distributing organizations, requested the interim relief judge (‘juge des référés’) to suspend the execution of the decree, as it entails serious and manifestly unlawful violations of fundamental freedoms of both migrants and the associations.

In its assessment, the interim relief judge only evaluated if the situation at hand, because of the execution of the Decree, was serious enough to require interim measures to safeguard the effective exercise of the fundamental freedoms at stake. The judge stated that the State provides the migrants with good and enough food and water, in places that are easily accessible by them, meaning that the migrants live within a 3 km distance of the distribution places. The judge underlined that the Decree only pushed the distribution places a few hundred meters away from the city center, which was not enough to consider that the Decree made the distributions impossible or overly difficult. The judge concluded that the applicants were not prevented from continuing their distributions and that the sense of urgency was not proven. The application was therefore rejected.

Based on an unofficial translation by the EWLU team. Photo: Global Justice Now, September 19, 2015, Flickr (CC)

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                               

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