In order to maintain our activities in supporting people in exile and those who support them, we need your help.
Current situation in Calais
Today in Calais, between 1200 and 1500 exiled people wander between the city centre and the peripheral makeshift camps. For the past two years and today still, these camps are being destroyed and the people who live there are expelled every 48 hours, without any legal basis. This harassment policy is reinforced by a massive security arsenal which builds up the ‘scorched earth policy’ implemented in the area by the French government. The exiled people are victims of a highly repressive migration policy: creation of homelessness; deprivation of personal belongings; seizure of shelters; restrictions on access to food, water and hygiene; discrimination on the use of the free city buses; arrests, detentions, deportations, intimidation and violence. These measures produce precarity and destitution.
In response to the continuous process of making the existence of exiled people in Calais invisible, Legal Shelter, an organization created in March 2016 in the State slum of the so called “Jungle” decided to maintain its activities to fight for an equal access to human rights for everybody.
Legal Shelter activities
For this purpose, we offer free legal advice sessions several times a week in Calais city-centre. These sessions allow us to provide those exiled in Calais with information in a safe space, in full respect of the dignity and confidentiality required, outside of the usual emergency framework.
Legal Shelter also regularly does outreach information sessions in the camps, to reach out to people who do not have access to complete and accurate information about their rights. We also provide workshops and trainings around legal topics, for people in exile and local volunteers/organisations.
We continue to attend hearings at the court bound to Coquelles Immigration Removal Centre and to visit those who are detained. In order to report and shed light on the abuses and violations of human rights we witness there, we notably communicate via the Facebook and Instagram page “Paye Tes Droits”.
Moreover, we support local gatherings and demonstrations in Calais defending human rights by deploying legal teams during those events in order to support people in exile in their initiatives to reveal repressive and discriminatory policies towards foreigners.
In August 2020, we made a submission to the French Human Rights Defender (the equivalent of the Ombudsman in the UK), to raise awareness about the poor conditions in which exiled people live. Following this submission, the Defender came to Calais on the 22and 23 September and reported an “alarming inhumane and degrading living conditions in which exiled people in Calais live” and “reiterated the observation already made by the former HR Defender regarding the violations of the most fundamental human rights these people are victims of”.
Furthermore, we won two major court cases to our credit with:
- the decision of the Conseil Consitutionnel (i.e. the equivalent of the French Supreme Court) on 11 January 2018, regarding the complete non-compliance of the “protection zone”, a governmental measure implemented for the purpose of the Jungle dismantling,
- the condemnation of France by the ECHR on 28 February 2019, pursuant to Article 3 regarding the inhuman and degrading treatment of an unaccompanied asylum-seeking minor.
This year we commit to invest more efforts on legal disputes and advocacy work.
In order to maintain those activities, we need your help!
We are recognised as a “public interest” organisation and rely only on our volunteers’ work. Your financial support would thus help us cover our operating costs, which are essential to allows us to continue our activities and ensure the presence of a permanent legal team in Calais.
The legal disputes and advocacy work involve long-term costs and monitoring, which is why to carry out those activities, we need your help!
The Legal Shelter operates in an independent and committed way. Our funding solely comes from private donors, contributions, and one-off donations.