Human Rights Watch: French police use excessive force on Calais migrants

CALAIS, FRANCE (JULY 26, 2017) (REUTERS) – Human Rights Watch pressed France on Wednesday (July 26) to end what it described as recurrent police violence against migrants in the northern town of Calais, where hundreds have returned despite the demolition of a sprawling camp once known as “the Jungle”.

In a report entitled “Like Living in Hell”, the U.S.-based rights group said police routinely abused migrants in the hope of having them leave the coastal city.

Based on interviews conducted with some 60 migrants in the area, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said police had used pepper spray on child and adult migrants while they were sleeping, regularly sprayed or confiscated sleeping bags and clothing, and sometimes destroyed food and water.

Regional prefect Fabien Sudry dismissed the report, saying the accusations were unfounded. Police force was used in a proportionate fashion, he said in a statement.

A police union representative said there have been no complaints filed in court.

Some migrants interviewed by Reuters on Wednesday who refused to be indentified confirmed that police have used pepper spray against them.

Aid agencies and government officials estimate there are now as many as 600 migrants in the northern port area, where a vast shanty town sheltering up to 10,000 was razed by authorities last October.