One Darkest Page

In his comment to a recent post at Commentaires & Vaticinations (a popular opinion-making French blog), Maître Eolas, a lawyer at the Barreau de Paris and also reputable blogger, says the following:

“When you deal with that from the inside, when you see what you see, it’s impossible to avoid thinking that the darkest page of French contemporary history is being written now. I mean that it’s precisely THIS that we’ll be repenting of in fifty or sixty years. The fact that it’s being much less horrible that the horrors that happened sixty years ago, and that the police prefecture has abandoned the Vichy methods, is of little relief.”

The discussion is about the recent case of a young boy that threw himself out of the window because immigration police officers were to arrest and expel the family (Russian nationals, living and working in Amiens, France). The comment’s author is reacting to a post that criticizes manichean views of newly-reinforced French policy against immigrant labor. In particular, the author of the main post accuses RESF (Réseau Education Sans Frontières, an organization that is working to protect immigrant resident families from police abuse and deportation) of playing a manipulative strategy consisting, for instance, in comparing the current situation with the sequestrations and deportations that took place under nazi occupation in France. For instance, using the term “deportation” to refer to the forced transport of people outside of the area or country where they live, would be, some along the line of the post’s author would say, not fine because it covers with a sort of a moralistic imperative a situation that is more complex than that. (In the same line, saying that Nicolas Sarkozy is a fascist would be a narrow-minded, stupid, regrettable simplification.)

In his discreet reaction, however, the lawyer (who seems to be a rather politically reasonable fellow, as the author of the main post seem to be too) talks, at least in part, on the basis of what he sees of what is actually going on from the legal point of view:

“A 11-years-old kid, whose family apparently comes from Chechnya, is scared of police officers knocking at his door enough to jump out of the window. This should make us ask ourselves some questions. Foreigners are dying out of the measures undertaken by police officers in charge of escorting them to the border. Does the refusal of being carried to the border justify the use of an amount of violence that can provoke death?

The first victims of this policy are children, that suffer from the distress of their parents, the permanent fear of being controlled, arrested, deprived from liberty for 32 days with a signature from the prefect, having seen two judges that cannot but accept the operation. I have seen 7-years-old children with depression, needing medical treatment. I saw them after they parents got papers. Resurrection.

It is not simplistic humanitarianism or anti-Sarkozy propaganda to say that this policy’s bad consequences are greater than the good ones. Now, the right of foreigners is actually the right to be submitted to the prefects’ arbitrariness, who actually obey the orders from ministers that are more interested in electoral moves than in a coherent political will. The evolution of foreigners’ rights in the last thirty years is towards a barricading of all interstice that would allow foreigners to enter. The only thing left are France’s international commitments to human rights, that barely impose a stopgap to their violation. If it is possible to expel an immigrant that is actually legally entitled to regularization just because he does not have access to a competent lawyer, then let’s do it. There’s only a 1,000 euros fee for procedure if you get caught, so not a big deal.”

The long commentary goes on with, for instance, a couple of political recommendations. It is a rapid commentary, though. A follow-up. Written on spot, in the gentle heat of a discussion. But it was perhaps worthwhile translating and duplicating it here.


  1. 1 Still Counting « Test Society

    […] 22nd, 2007 A follow-up on Doing Figures and One Darkest Page: this past Thursday another person jumped out of the window (Boulevard de la Villette, in Paris) […]

  2. 2 DNA as a Rattle « Test Society

    […] france, hortefeux, immigration, law, police, rights, testing Maître Eolas (already presented in One Darkest Page) makes here a couple of relevant clarifications about the controversial French law on immigration […]

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