The updated Country Report on France provides a thorough overview of developments in legislation, policy and practice in relation to the asylum procedure, reception conditions, detention of asylum seekers and integration of beneficiaries of international protection.
The report sheds light on the implementation of the procedural changes brought about by the 2015 reform, eighteen months following its entry into force. During 2016, NGOs have started accompanying asylum seekers during their interview with the Office of Protection of Refugees (OFPRA). 14 NGOs are today accredited to support asylum seekers during their interview. At the same time, the first hearings at the National Court of Asylum (CNDA) with a single judge were settled on 27 February 2016. Stakeholders feared that this type of hearing might have a negative impact on asylum claims, increasing the rejection rate, but in practice this rate seems to be the same as regular hearings.
Despite the efficiency aims of the reform, access to the asylum claim registration has become even more problematic over the past year. In several areas of the country, platforms in charge of the registration have been overwhelmed and the Prefectures have not been able to process asylum claims within the deadlines foreseen by the law. These dysfunctions have prevented many asylum seekers from getting access to the procedure in reasonable times and from getting access to accommodation.
Coupled with slow registration, accommodation is equally concerning in France. 8,703 places of accommodation have been added to the reception system in 2016. Despite this increase, however, the national reception scheme is insufficient to accommodate all the asylum seekers. These limitations have been particularly highlighted by the crisis in Calais and in Paris. The dismantlement in Calais led the government to create 241 centres of accommodation and orientation (CAO) to channel people living in the slums. Asylum seekers living in camps in Paris have also been channelled to these centres. Two humanitarian centres have also been created by Paris municipality in Paris and in Ivry-sur-Seine to empty out camps settled in the downtowns. In 2017, 1,800 additional places will be opened in CADA. The objective is to reach 60,854 accommodation places, among which 40,352 would be in CADA.
In 2016, France also completed the immigration law reform, introducing an array of amendments to detention among others. The immigration law has modified the rules on judicial review of detention. It is now possible for the Judge of Freedoms and Detention (JLD) to be seized for the first time within 48 hours after the placement in detention. The Judge can extend the detention for 28 additional days or uphold the release of the detainee.
According to the reform, asylum seekers placed under the Dublin procedure and subjected to a house arrest order can be placed in detention if they do not present themselves for their appointment at the Prefecture. Before the placement is upheld, the Prefect can also require from the Judge of Freedoms and Detention to send police forces to the residence of the asylum seekers in order to ensure they are not absconding.
Read the full country report here.