There have been nearly 1,000 human rights violations by French police towards refugees in Calais in the past year, according to a report released on Wednesday.
Police Violence in Calais: Abusive and Illegal Practices by Law Enforcement officers, published by four humanitarian organisations – L’Auberge des Migrants, Refugee Info Bus, Utopia56 and Legal Shelter – says that 972 incidents were recorded over the space of a year by aid workers who formed a human rights monitoring team.
One of the most serious allegations relates to January 25, 2018, when a 16-year-old Eritrean boy lost his eye, sense of smell and hearing in one ear after French riot police fired tear gas into a crowd of refugees during an eviction of their sleeping area in Calais.
The report says that the riot police fired “chemical agent grenades indiscriminately into a crowd of displaced people in [an] attempt to disperse them.”
The victim says that a rubber bullet gun was fired at him 10 to 15 metres away.
“The (riot police) fired tear gas from guns and filled the sky with smoke,” says a British volunteer who witnessed the incident. “I saw through the smoke a boy being carried by his friends, covered in blood. He had been hit in the eye and they had no way of getting him to hospital.
“His friends were crying; it was a group of minors and the boy himself was 16.”
On June 4, 2018, the IGPN, the French police watchdog, announced that it would open an investigation into the incident, which is yet to be concluded.
At least 124 reports of physical violence by police officers against refugees were made to volunteers.
One testimony from a 21-year-old Ethiopian male on October 29, 2018 says that he was beaten by police.
“They tried to break my arms,” he says. “They beat me too much.” He claims he later lost consciousness
A 13-year-old boy from Afghanistan, who had been sleeping on the streets, says that he was a victim of tear-gassing and beatings by French authorities.