Charter to Georgia: a summer of deportations of families with children

Several families were deported to Georgia by charter on Thursday. The coordination between the different prefectures to organize such a flight is quite new, notes La Cimade and testifies to a political will. The association warns of “progress” in detention of parents with children during the summer holidays.

It was a large-scale operation that took place on Wednesday 27 July. In several French departments, Border Police (PAF) agents arrested Georgian families at their residences and placed them in detention. The next day, a charter flew from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport to deport them to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.

“It is difficult to know the exact number of people on board. It is really a dragnet, as if it were organized crime, with arrests in Metz, Toulouse …”, sighs Paul Chiron, responsible for legal actions in detention for La Cimade.

At least four families were locked up in the Mesnil-Amelot administrative detention center (CRA) last week. At least two others were at the Metz CRA. Among the latter, a mother and her two children aged 13 and 16. But also a couple and their children aged just 2 and 4, reports La Cimade in a press release.

Coordination on a new scale

Georgian families were also arrested and locked up in the CRAs “in Rouen, Vincennes or Lille” to embark on the same charter departing from Paris, the association said.

Paul Chiron describes “a pretty impressive coordination to fill this charter to the max”. According to him, the operation is on an unprecedented scale. “In 2019, we had seen arrests for filling charters from Brittany or Toulouse. This time, they are arrests throughout France, and it is quite new”, he emphasizes.

Can we see a connection with the recent statements by the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin about his desire to deport more foreigners? “We often hear that the Ministry of the Interior wants more coordination between the administrations in order to increase the number of deportations. There was national coordination from the PAF’s central services, the Ministry of the Interior”, recognizes Paul Chiron.

>> To (re)read: Deportation of criminal aliens: Darmanin boasts of his firmness, but offers nothing new

But for the rest, the minister’s semantics “have existed for a very long time. There is rather a continuity in a policy of firmness”, the lawyer analysed. The proof: If Gérald Darmanin insists on the language element of the “double punishment” around the figure of criminal aliens, “we can clearly see that the deportation policy is much broader than that. The families that have been deported do not fit in. in in this framework.

Miners and charters: France is already doomed

The charter is a plane chartered specifically to deport a large number of people. It makes it possible to operate “in complete discretion without going through a commercial flight so as not to risk cancellation in the face of the indignation of people who would witness it”, recalls La Cimade. Over the past two years, with the health crisis sometimes grounding commercial flights, many prefectures have fallen back on this remedy. Charter flights also make it easy to “inflate the figures” in the interior, notes Paul Chiron.

>> To (re)read: France: everything you need to know about deporting foreigners with or without papers

The European Court of Human Rights has already condemned France for these mass deportations. She has also condemned the state nine times for confining minors in prison.

Regardless, in their detention orders, the prefects of Oise and Moselle justify the imprisonment of minors in the name of “the interests of the children” and by “protecting them from the limitations associated with the necessities of the transfer”, relays. La Cimade.

Asked about this, the two affected prefectures have not yet answered our questions. “It’s an abuse of the law. It’s comfort placements, which are not made for the children’s comfort, but for the administration’s,” responds Paul Chiron on his side.

Family threatened with deportation to Albania with ‘their 17-year-old high school son’

Paul Chiron is concerned about a possible “continuity” of deportations of parents with children in the coming weeks. In fact, other families have been placed in recent days.

La Cimade is particularly concerned about a family that was arrested the day before yesterday. The parents are locked up at this very moment in Mesnil-Amelot with their 25-year-old daughter, who has so far been engaged in the local mission in her municipality, as well as their 17-year-old son, who is a high school graduate. All four are threatened with deportation to Albania.

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“Unfortunately we note an increase in family detention placements during school holidays, particularly summer,” says Paul Chiron. A strategy from the administration to limit citizen reactions around families, according to him. During the school year, “when there is an empty chair in the classroom, the students, their parents and the teachers mobilize”.

Another particular case is condemned by La Cimade: a father, locked up in the Rennes CRA and then deported to his country of origin without his wife and children. “What was quite astonishing is that the detention order planned for the father to be locked up with his children,” says Paul Chiron. However, the latter, as well as his companion, were absent from the hotel where the family is staying when the PAF intervened. The agents “still arrested and deported the father without regard to family ties”, criticizes the association leader. “Just because those were the orders. And it’s better to expel one person than zero”.

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