Chris Tomlinson, European Conservative, October 25, 2023
France looks set to massively overhaul its immigration system, particularly deportations, which could see the country simply deport dangerous illegal immigrants before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) can even hear their cases.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has touted a much-anticipated immigration reform since 2022 when he proposed various new measures to increase the number of deportations of illegal migrants These include the idea of putting those with deportation orders on France’s criminal wanted list as well as removing their access to state social benefits.
Now, according to a report from the Times newspaper, Darmanin also wants to deport illegal migrants who may pose a danger to France before they have a chance to appeal their deportation order to the European Court of Human Rights, something that has hampered the ability of the French state to carry out deportations in the past.
The ECHR often prevents deportations of migrants if they have reasonable suspicion that they may be subjected to torture, mistreatment, or death upon returning to their home countries.
Darmanin, however, has proposed deporting illegal migrants back to their home countries regardless, noting that France was willing to pay any fine imposed upon the country by the ECHR, usually around 3,000 euros, as the safety of the French public took priority.
The Interior Minister spoke out regarding dangerous illegal migrants, saying, “But should we keep [them] with us when they can also cause death in our country?” and added, “What is the role of the interior minister? To protect the population.”
Last year, France deported two Chechen migrants, one of whom was convicted of terrorism offences while the other was said to be an Islamist radical, but the ECHR later condemned the move, claiming that it violated the European Convention on Human Rights as the migrants may face mistreatment.
“I think the French people … find that it makes sense that someone given a ten-year jail sentence for terrorist activities can be expelled because they are very dangerous,” Darmanin said.
Earlier this year, in April, the French judiciary launched a probe into the deportation of Chechen dissident Magomed Gadaev, who was deported from France in 2021 as Darmanin and the Interior Ministry claimed he was sympathetic to radical Islam.
Gadaev, a vocal critic of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, was arrested upon his arrival in the Russian Federation and sentenced to a year and a half in prison, but was released in August 2022.
The judicial probe involves Darmanin and two other officials and is being spearheaded by the crimes against humanity section of the Paris court after a complaint from the Human Rights League and the wife of Gadaev.
Interior Minister Darmanin’s new approach mirrors that of United Kingdom Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who has also criticised the ECHR but has gone even further than her French counterpart in stating she wishes the UK to leave the court entirely.
“If we are thwarted by the courts, or indeed by Strasbourg, then we will have to do whatever it takes, ultimately, to ensure that we can stop the boats,” Braverman said back in August.
She also spoke out on the court’s role in stopping the UK government’s scheme to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, saying, “Last year we saw very plainly how the Strasbourg court thwarted our attempt for flights to take off to Rwanda through an opaque process at the last minute, which undermined the decisions of this government.”
“It’s a politicised court; it’s interventionist; it’s treading on the territory of national sovereignty, but no one’s talking about leaving the ECHR right now,” she added.
In recent years, France’s deportation figures have been abysmal, with the French media noting last year that in 2020, just 7% of deportations were actually carried out, with the number shrinking to just 6% the following year.
The failure of the French state to carry out deportation orders has had very real and tragic consequences in recent years.
In October of last year, a 12-year-old girl named Lola was brutally raped and murdered outside her home in Paris. The main suspect, a 24-year-old Algerian woman named Dhabia B., was subject to a deportation order and should have been removed from France a month prior to the murder, but the order was never carried out.
More recently, the murder of teacher Dominique Bernard in Arras by a Chechen asylum seeker also highlighted France’s broken immigration system.
The alleged killer, Chechen Mohammed Mogushkov, came to France as a young child with his family, who arrived in the country as illegal immigrants. They were never deported due to pressure from political parties and migrant rights associations, although the attacker’s father was later deported in 2018 over domestic violence issues.
Mohammed Mogushkov, meanwhile, continued to live in France despite being on the terrorism watchlist known as the S-File and being monitored by the French domestic intelligence service, the DGSI.
He was even rejected for asylum in 2021 but was allowed to remain in the country since he had arrived before turning 13.
Last year, Interior Minister Darmanin suggested reforming that part of immigration law and allowing for the deportation of any foreign criminals even if they entered the country prior to turning 13.
“We want to allow the expulsion of any foreigner found guilty of a serious act by the courts, regardless of his condition of presence on the national territory,” he said.
Darmanin’s new immigration reforms are set to come before the French Senate in November and the National Assembly in December, where he will require support from opposition parties to pass the new bill.