[ 23. Nov 2008 ]

France pulls out from mass deportation to Afghanistan on joint charter flight

... but the flight will still go ahead this evening (18. Nov 2008) for the Afghanis detained in UK, currently held in Colnbrook deportation centre.


It is 'the usual Ravel Tuesday run' as John O from NCACD puts it - referring to regular deportation charter flights regularly leaving the UK for Kabul - without anyone making a noise about. But when the French Immigration minister, bowing to the UK government's pressure, agreed to send back Afghanis rounded up in Calais on a UK/France joint charter flight, the French anti-racist groups and NGOs protested very loudly.

Yesterday (17. Nov 2008) the French Immigration minister announced the decision to withdraw from the joint charter flight. However the reasons for France withdrawing have nothing to do with 'goodness or generosity', as a French activist puts it, but the decision is due to the positive response of the Europan Court for Human Rights to an appeal made to the ECHR by 11 Afghanis detained in the French deportation centre of La Coquelles. As a result, the ECHR demanded that France stops the mass deportation, as the situation in Afghanistan is too volatile and safety from inhumane and degrading treatement cannot be guaranteed. (on this regard I would remind a recent case of a 'failed' asylum seeker who was tortured and killed by the Taleban after being returned from Australia to Afghanistan).

If it unsafe to deport people to Afghanistan, than it is also unsafe to deport people to Afghanistan from the UK, isn't it?

There are other issues: the Afghanis rounded up and detained in France were trying to cross the Channel and apply for asylum in the UK. They had not yet applied for asylum, which is their right under the 1951 Refugee Convention. The Afghanis detained in the UK have already been through the farce/ process of applying for asylum and being refused under every most petty pretext, which renders it legal to remove them to a country at war, where the UK military are heavily involved and UK citiziens are advised not to travel because it is too dangerous. France has signed a paragraph 4 in the convention that prohibits mass expulsions. The UK has signed too but has not ratified (can some one explain me the difference because I am at loss).

The French activists mobilised and protested against the charter flight deportation, which attacted a lot of public and media attention and undobtely had a bearing on the Immigration minister's decision of withdrawing. But from the UK, a charter flight (known as 'operation Ravel') leaves at least once a month on a Tuseday, destination Kabul, and we don't even hear about. The next charter flight leaves this evening.

Article publsihed first on 18. Nov 2008 in ::