Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

World Report 2012 - European Union: France

Publisher Human Rights Watch
Publication Date 22 January 2012
Cite as Human Rights Watch, World Report 2012 - European Union: France, 22 January 2012, available at: [accessed 20 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Expulsions of Eastern European Roma continued, with a June immigration law increasing certain procedural safeguards while also allowing expulsions for "abusing" the right to short-term stay as EU citizens. Despite evidence of continued discriminatory targeting of Roma, the European Commission said in August it was satisfied with France's response to its concerns.

In April France's Council of State (highest administrative court) ruled that an August 2010 Ministry of Interior circular (later withdrawn) telling police to prioritize the dismantling of unlawful Roma settlements was discriminatory.

The June immigration law weakened the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, expanding the use of so-called transit zones – where they have fewer rights and can be easily deported – to detain individuals. The maximum detention period pending deportation was increased to 45 days, with judicial review delayed for five days after placement in detention.

The same law allowed the government to detain foreign terrorism suspects for up to six months, including in cases where deportation is blocked because of the risk of torture or ill-treatment upon return. The Constitutional Council struck down the government's attempt to increase such detention to up to 18 months. The ECtHR ruled in September that France could not deport an Algerian to his home country because of the risk he faced of torture or ill-treatment.

Following civil society pressure and several binding court rulings, legal changes enacted in April increased safeguards in police custody, including notification of the right to remain silent and to have a lawyer present during questioning. However private client-lawyer conferences are still limited to 30 minutes, and authorities can still delay the presence of a lawyer in certain circumstances. The changes left in place exceptional rules for terrorism and organized crime suspects, who can be held for up to 72 hours without access to a lawyer.

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