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They denounced an obstacle to the freedom to inform after being kept at a distance from the evacuation of migrant camps in the Nord and Pas-de-Calais.
Two journalists had denounced Monday, January 4 before the administrative court of Lille the obstacle to press freedom, which they believed represented the impossibility of access to evacuations from migrant camps in the Nord and Pas-de-Calais. The court dismissed them on Tuesday. Seized of an appeal for interim relief by these independent journalists, supported by the National Union of Journalists (SNJ), the court considered that the urgency to act was not characterized, the evacuations of camps being “completed».
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The decision, consulted by AFP, underlines that the journalists, who complained of not having been able to enter, on five occasions on December 29 and 30, in the security perimeters surrounding the evacuation operations in Calais, Grande-Synthe and Coquelles, “do not report any new evacuation intervention in progress at the present date or to come, which they would consider attending and that in addition, it is indicated in defense that the evacuations have been completed». «This decision quite intelligently avoids the substantive issue that could have set a precedent.», Reacted to AFP one of the applicants, Louis Witter – the pseudonym of this young photojournalist.
The photographer had posted photos on his Twitter account, which had gone viral, showing Grande-Synthe a person in a coverall slashing a migrant’s tent. Photos taken according to him taking advantage of a moment of inattention by the police. For the lawyers of Mr. Witter and his colleague Simon Hamy, as well as of the SNJ, Me William Bourdon and Vincent Brengarth, the court has “found a solution because there was obviously an embarrassment on the merits of the file“. Deploring “a blank check given to a situation of opacity“, They judge”the disappointment all the stronger in a period marked by an authoritarian drift and a constant increase in the power of the police, where the judge is expected to play the role of safeguard“. The lawyers, for whom this appeal would be a first in France, say they are considering an appeal before the Council of State.
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At the hearing, representatives of the prefectures considered that the devices deployed ensured the balance between security and freedom of the press, and stressed that articles and photos of these evacuations had been disseminated. “A security perimeter is something quite classic“, Had insisted the sub-prefect of Dunkirk Hervé Tourmente, for whom the main stake was”avoid all accident», While weapons could be present in the camps. “This is not at all the first time that journalists have been excluded from the scope of intervention, it is usually the case, as indeed for months and years for our teams of Human rights observers.“, A network of observers of respect for the rights of exiles, emphasized to AFP François Guennoc of the Auberge des migrants.
Mr. Witter indicates that he had been warned by activists before his report that Calais would have become a “zone d’exception»For the police. According to associations, around a thousand migrants are currently between Calais and Grande-Synthe, exposed to almost daily expulsions from their makeshift camps.
Another court decision related to the evictions is expected Wednesday. Exiles and associations have sued the prefect of Pas-de-Calais before the judicial court of Boulogne-sur-Mer for the dismantling at the end of September of a large encampment in Calais, which they estimate “illegal».