UN slams France's immigration policies, prisons

29th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

The UN Human Rights Committee is asking France to re-examine immigration polices and poor conditions in overcrowding prisons.

29 July 2008

PARIS - The UN Human Rights Committee has slammed France's immigration policies and expressed concern about overcrowding and poor conditions in its prisons, according to documents seen Monday by AFP.

It also asked France to re-examine a new law under which people deemed a threat to society can be kept in prison - possibly for the rest of their lives - even after they have served out their full sentence.

The criticisms came in a text dated 22 July addressed to the French state by the Geneva-based international committee of jurists.

It "noted with concern" that many asylum-seekers and would-be immigrants were held in what it called "inappropriate premises" in airports and elsewhere.

It regretted that France had not opened any enquiries into allegations of ill-treatment of foreigners in prisons and so-called "retention centres" where asylum-seekers and illegal immigrants are held.

Nor, said the document by the committee, did French authorities "punish as is fitting the authors" of such ill-treatment.

French authorities also failed to properly inform people held in these centres of their rights, such as their right to request asylum, and they also sent people back to their home countries even when "their integrity was in danger" there, it said.

The UN Human Rights Committee also said it was worried by the "overcrowding and poor conditions that reign" in prisons in France.

In July the number of people in prisons here hit a historic high of 64,250, according to official figures. The latest figures for the number of places in the country's 200 jails have not been released, but last month there were just over 50,000 available spots.

The UN body said France should limit the amount of time people can spend in jail while waiting for trial, noting that in terrorism and organised crime cases this can be as much as four years and eight months.

[AFP / Expatica]

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