Access to detention facilities


Country Report: Access to detention facilities Last updated: 24/05/24


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Access to CRA

Six NGOs are present quasi-permanently (5 to 6 days a week) in the centres as a result of their mission of information for foreigners and assistance in exercising their rights (see section on Legal Assistance).[1]  Their mission is not extended to LRAs. The following NGOs lead this mission in CRA:

  • Lot 1 (Bordeaux, Nantes, Rennes, Toulouse, Hendaye): La Cimade;
  • Lot 2 (Lille 1 and 2, Metz, Geispolsheim): SOS Solidarités ASSFAM-Groupe SOS,
  • Lot 3 (Lyon, Marseille and Nice): Forum réfugiés;
  • Lot 4 (Nîmes, Perpignan and Sète): Forum réfugiés;
  • Lot 5 (Overseas): La Cimade;
  • Lot 6 (Le Mesnil-Amelot 1, 2 and 3): La Cimade;
  • Lot 7 (Palaiseau, Plaisir, Coquelles and Rouen-Oissel): France Terre d’Asile;
  • Lot 8 (Bobigny and Paris): ASSFAM-Groupe SOS;
  • Mayotte: Solidarité Mayotte.

Representatives of other accredited humanitarians NGOs can have access to all administrative detention places. Accessible rooms and facilities are listed:[2] this excludes the police offices, the registry, the video surveillance room, the kitchen, the technical premises. A maximum of 5 persons can make a visit within 24 hours. The time of the visits should not hinder the proper functioning of the centre, preferably during the day and the week. The head of the centre will be informed of the visit 24 hours in advance and can reschedule the visit by giving reasons and for a limited period.

In addition, some people enjoy free access to the CRA:

  • The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights;
  • The members of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture;
  • The French and European Members of Parliament[3];
  • The French representation of UNHCR;[4]
  • The General Controller of places of freedom deprivation[5];
  • The Prefects;
  • Public prosecutors; and
  • JLD

Others have more limited access: consulate staff; lawyers; families of persons held.[6] Only families (or friends) are subject to restricted hours. Since the asylum law reform, representatives from UNHCR have access to the administrative detention centres in France under the same conditions as for waiting zones, meaning they have to get an individual agreement whose validity is of 3 months renewable. They are authorised to conduct confidential interviews with detainees who have applied for asylum in France.[7]

The law also allows journalists access to administrative detention centres.[8] This access must be authorised by the Prefect.[9] In case of denial of access, the decision has to be motivated.[10] Their presence must be compatible with the detainees’ dignity, security measures and the functioning of centre.[11] The detainees can refuse to appear on photographs or to be mentioned in articles. The journalists have to preserve the anonymity of the detained children under all circumstances. This condition does not apply to adults giving their authorisation for their identity to be revealed.[12] The reform also established the rule that journalists following Members of Parliament visiting detention centres cannot be denied access to these centres. The same limitations regarding the anonymity apply in this case.[13]

Finally, in cases where alternatives to detention are implemented (persons under house arrest), the key question of the exercise of rights of these persons is still to be dealt with. In fact, persons put under house arrest have neither access to information and free administrative and legal assistance by a specialised association, nor formalised social support and free health care.

Access to waiting zones

The list of NGOs accredited to send representatives to access the waiting zones, established by order of the Ministry of the Interior was last revised in June 2021 and will be valid until June 2024.[14] It includes 9 organisations:

  • Association nationale d’assistance aux frontières pour les étrangers (Anafé);
  • La Cimade;
  • Croix-Rouge française;
  • France terre d’asile;
  • Forum réfugiés;
  • Groupe accueil et solidarité (GAS);
  • Groupe d’information et de soutien des immigrés (GISTI);
  • Ligue des Droits de l’Homme;
  • Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP)

Only Anafé provides support regularly in the waiting zone of Roissy airport, being present in their office for few days each week. In other waiting zones, NGOs conduct visits based on the availability of their volunteers and/or when someone calls them from waiting zones. Indeed, when a foreigner is detained in a waiting zone, they must be given a list of contacts by the police including NGOs available in the area.








[1] Article R.744-20 Ceseda

[2] Décret du 24 juin 2014 modifiant les articles R. 744-27 à R. 744-32 du Ceseda complété par une note d’information du 28 octobre 2014 du ministre de l’intérieur relative aux modalités d’accès des associations humanitaires aux lieux de rétention.

[3] Article L. 744-12 Ceseda

[4] Article L. 744-13 Ceseda

[5] Loi n° 2007-1545 du 30 octobre 2007 instituant un Contrôleur général des lieux de privation de liberté, NOR : JUSX0758488L.

[6] Ministry of Interior, Persons having access to centres and locations of administrative detention, available in French at:

[7] Article R. 744-26 Ceseda.

[8] Article L. 744-15 Ceseda.

[9] Article R. 744-34 Ceseda.

[10] Article R. 744-35 Ceseda.

[11] Article L. 744-15 Ceseda.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Article R. 744-39 Ceseda.

[14] Arrêté du 1er juin 2021 fixant la liste des associations humanitaires habilitées à proposer des représentants en vue d’accéder en zone d’attente, available in French at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation