In Calais, one week after the visit of the French Human Rights Defender, Madame Claire Hédon, and three days after the demonstration for the respect of the rights of exiled people, a large-scale eviction took place in the “Hospital jungle” without any official legal basis.

“Hospital”, a wooded wasteland where almost 800 people of different nationalities live, the biggest jungle in Calais today, was evicted this morning.

The prefect speaks of the “most important” eviction since the big jungle in 2016 under the pretext of sheltering people. How can we talk about sheltering when it is forced, violent and ineffective? Indeed, the political strategy of scorched earth and harassment of the inhabitants put forward by the public authorities is a failure. Four years after the “big jungle”, the context in Calais is the same, if not worse.

From 5.30am, an armada of law enforcement agencies (national gendarmerie, CRS, national police, border police, technical and scientific police, etc.) and nearly thirty buses with a capacity of 900 places, destined for ‘shelter’ centres, arrived at the camp. This is an unprecedented scale. For example, during the eviction of 21 August 2020, four buses were chartered. The people were surrounded, escorted off the field, placed in lines and blinded by flashlights in their faces by the police. Away from the field, some were tear-gassed in the forest of the camp. Nearly 340 people were brutally escorted onto buses, without knowing their destination, which can be anywhere in France, in accommodation centres that are anyway unsuitable. Others were taken away and locked up in administrative detention centres. At least 22 people, including 5 minors, were arrested: even the latter do not escape the operation.

Legally, the eviction was justified by the police as being based on “flagrante delicto”, which allows for the collection of evidence in the context of an investigation, but does not authorise an eviction. If the eviction was based on a petition order, the petition order should have been posted publically: otherwise, the eviction is simply illegal. If the eviction was based on a prefectural evacuation order, this was not made public either.

The absence of an announcement of the legal basis de facto deprives the inhabitants of the land of their right to appeal to the judge to contest their eviction.

The police forces broke the tent poles, the few remaining belongings were taken away in a skip, or stored in a wet container. The associations tried to organise themselves to observe the eviction but were pushed back outside the closed perimeter by the police, while journalists, contacted by the prefecture, were invited to enter.

At 12.30 pm, the eviction was still not finished. However, at the same time, a new eviction took place at another living site, “BMX”, far from the perimeter discretionarily imposed by the police. The inhabitants were brutalised, gassed and the volunteer observers were manhandled. The majority of the occupants of this field refused to get on the buses; all their shelters, tents, sleeping bags were seized. At 2.40pm, the eviction ended.

In nine hours, more than 800 people had been evicted, without them having had the opportunity to assert their rights.

Signatory Organisations

La Cabane Juridique
Human Rights Observers
First Aid Support Team
Collective Aid
Terre d’Errance
Project Play
Refugee Youth Service