UN anti-torture body deplores France's asylum process

14th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The UN's top anti torture panel on Friday deplored France's treatment of asylum seekers, especially under procedures aimed at expediting their cases and expelling those that were rejected.

In a concluding report on its review of France's record undertaken two weeks ago, the UN Committee Against Torture underlined particular concern at "persistent allegations... of bad treatment that may have been inflicted by law enforcement officers on detainees."

The panel of independent human rights experts called on France to hand over a 2008 police inspection report on the cases of two rejected asylum seekers who suffocated to death while they were being removed from French territory.

The committee also "deplored the fact that it had been seized of several documented allegations relative to the return of individuals to places where they risked torture" or inhumane or degrading treatment, the report added.

During its hearing, the committee heard that France had one of the highest rates of suicide in prisons out of European countries.

Twenty two percent of asylum requests presented in 2009 were treated under a process that does not allow the right to appeal, it noted with concern.

An asylum seeker "could be expelled towards a country were they risk torture, before the national asylum court has been able to hear their request for protection," the Geneva based committee added.

It recommended that France restore appeal rights, in 13 page report that was mainly devoted to issues of concerns.

The panel of human rights experts also took issue with rules requiring a asylum seekers in retention centres to lodge a their request within five days.

It said the period said it should be extended to allow an "adequate" and properly documented asylum request in line with other legal demands placed on them by the system in France.

© 2010 AFP

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