The updated AIDA Country Report on France provides information on persisting challenges and developments in the asylum procedure, reception conditions, detention and content of international protection throughout 2017, as another major legislative reform of the French asylum system is currently ongoing.
The number of asylum seekers registered by the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) reached 100,412 last year. It should be noted that this numbers only covers those whose claims are referred to OFPRA. Therefore data published by the Ministry of Interior, as well as Eurostat, are incomplete insofar as they excluded asylum seekers whose cases are channelled under a Dublin procedure by the French Prefectures. Around 41,500 Dublin procedures were initiated in 2017.
Massive and unlawful push backs of migrants have continued to take place at the Italian border throughout 2017 and have led to condemnation by courts. To circumvent the controls set up in Menton, migratory routes have shifted towards riskier journeys through the Alps, near Briançon. Once again police checks and unlawful summary returns have been documented.
The situation of registration of asylum applications at the “single desks” of Prefectures remains dire. In most areas, the Prefectures have been unable to register claims within the 3 working day deadline set by the law. To restore the 3-day time limit, the Minister of Interior published a Circular on 12 January 2018 which plans to increase the staff in Prefectures and OFII and to reorganise services. This plan envisages fully open “single desks” every day of the week, as well as overbooking to compensate for ‘no show’ appointments.
Reception capacity is still insufficient, despite the creation of 25,000 additional accommodation places in 2017, bringing the total number to more than 80,000. Many asylum seekers still live on the streets, especially in Paris. New forms of accommodation have been developed, such as the reception and accommodation programme for asylum seekers (PRAHDA).
Detention of asylum seekers
Following the Al Chodor ruling of the CJEU, the Court of Cassation ruled that the detention of asylum seekers under the Dublin procedure is illegal due to the absence of legally defined criteria for a “significant risk of absconding”. In practice, however, some Prefectures continue to order detention of asylum seekers under a Dublin procedure.
Read the full country report here.