French police seize SIM cards, cut soles from shoes of child migrants, report claims

Child migrants are being abused, detained and returned to Italy illegally by French police, according to ...

Posted: Jun 15, 2018 2:10 PM
Updated: Jun 15, 2018 2:10 PM

Child migrants are being abused, detained and returned to Italy illegally by French police, according to a report published Friday by the charity Oxfam.

Some children trying to cross the border near the Italian coastal town of Ventimiglia have had their mobile phones seized and SIM cards stolen by the authorities, while others have been sent back to Italy after having had the soles of their shoes cut off, according to the report.

"French police officers are not upholding international standards," said Chiara Romagno from Oxfam Italy. "It's unacceptable. Besides pushing them back illegally, without offering any guarantees, against the law, they taunt them and mistreat them."

The French interior ministry did not respond to a request for comment from CNN.

Earlier this year, an administrative tribunal in Nice ruled that the police violated legislation in 20 separate cases of unaccompanied children who were detained and returned across the border to Italy.

But there is no indication yet that the treatment of migrants at the border is improving.

Since June 2015 -- when France first clamped down on its Italian border and sent armored vehicles to the frontier near Ventimiglia -- men, women and children trying to cross into France to claim asylum, rejoin family members or look for work have had little success.

In 2017, almost 23,000 people traveled through Ventimiglia. The figure in 2018 so far is 4,231, which is likely to increase rapidly as the weather improves, according to Oxfam.

One in four are unaccompanied children and the number of single women, vulnerable to abuse and trafficking, is increasing.

Rough sleeping, abuse, detention

Unable to enter France, thousands have taken up residence in Ventimiglia but receive little support from the Italian authorities. Many have been ejected from or chosen to leave the Italian asylum system, under which asylum seekers may wait months or years for a decision on their case and live with the threat of prolonged detention in reception hotspots and wrongful deportation.

Some live in the overcrowded and heavily policed Roja Camp outside the town but many, fearful of the police presence, sleep under a flyover instead.

Many of them wash in the nearby river and survive on one meal a day, provided by volunteers, the report says.

The prefecture of Ventimiglia did not respond to a request for comment from CNN.

Attempts to cross the border regularly fail. As well as facing physical and verbal abuse from the French police, unaccompanied children are frequently denied their right to claim asylum or detained overnight without food, water, blankets or access to interpreters or lawyers, the report says.

There are also instances of French police changing the birth date on statements, so a child migrant can be treated as an adult and legally pushed back to Italy, according to Oxfam.

Adults are forced to walk the 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) back to Ventimiglia on foot, Oxfam reports. "It is also very dangerous, because in many cases the pavement is missing," said Simone Alterisio from Italian NGO Diaconia Valdese. "Along that road, we met people walking back under the rain or the burning sun. The last person we met was a very young Eritrean girl holding her 40-day-old baby in her arms."

Crackdowns on migrants and refugees

It is not the first time that France and Italy have come under fire for their treatment of migrants and refugees. Both nations have been enacting increasingly restrictive, anti-immigrant policies since 2015 and have pledged further crackdowns.

Italy's new hardline interior minister, Matteo Salvini, made headlines earlier this week when he refused to allow a search-and-rescue ship carrying 630 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean to dock in an Italian port.

The country's right-wing politicians have long complained that current European Union laws mean that the heaviest responsibility for hosting migrants arriving on European shores falls on the coastal nations, including Italy, Spain and Greece.

During the recent election campaign, Salvini pledged to deport half a million migrants and has since insisted that Italy must not be "Europe's refugee camp."

French President Emmanuel Macron criticized Salvini's actions earlier this week, accusing the Italian government of "cynicism and irresponsibility" for refusing to allow the ship to dock.

Yet Macron has also pledged to crack down on "illegal routes" through Europe and earlier this year described the migrant camp in Calais as "an illegal occupation."

Under his leadership, the lower house of the French National Assembly passed an immigration law earlier this year that introduces a one-year prison sentence for illegal entry into the country.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 690391

Reported Deaths: 8104
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1417751856
Ramsey59044950
Dakota52670498
Anoka48579482
Washington30969309
Stearns25163241
St. Louis20636336
Scott19872145
Wright18754163
Olmsted16057111
Sherburne13701104
Carver1224752
Clay926795
Rice9192121
Blue Earth881947
Crow Wing7905102
Kandiyohi749389
Chisago722958
Otter Tail678794
Benton6567101
Mower569138
Winona561352
Goodhue556680
Douglas541684
Itasca526471
Beltrami516972
McLeod512064
Steele510721
Isanti495670
Morrison472463
Nobles452950
Becker443759
Polk438675
Freeborn433838
Lyon398754
Carlton394459
Nicollet384047
Pine378426
Mille Lacs359360
Brown353044
Cass350635
Le Sueur344729
Todd327334
Meeker310249
Waseca294525
Martin267933
Wabasha24654
Dodge24575
Hubbard236141
Roseau234824
Houston206816
Redwood203542
Renville202448
Fillmore200210
Pennington193022
Wadena188926
Faribault182225
Sibley178410
Cottonwood178324
Chippewa172639
Kanabec166729
Aitkin156838
Watonwan156511
Rock140719
Jackson135112
Pope13468
Yellow Medicine126620
Pipestone125326
Koochiching121919
Stevens121511
Swift118819
Murray116010
Marshall105318
Clearwater104818
Lake92821
Wilkin90214
Lac qui Parle86824
Mahnomen7059
Big Stone6964
Grant6958
Norman6699
Lincoln6554
Kittson53522
Unassigned51793
Red Lake4927
Traverse4315
Lake of the Woods4114
Cook2150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 435755

Reported Deaths: 6339
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk67341672
Linn25698353
Scott22828261
Black Hawk19121334
Woodbury16940233
Johnson1659690
Dubuque14547218
Pottawattamie13058183
Dallas12746102
Story1187148
Unassigned93740
Warren685993
Webster6304102
Cerro Gordo6212102
Clinton620097
Des Moines594482
Muscatine5781108
Marshall564280
Sioux542775
Jasper516575
Lee511078
Wapello4993128
Buena Vista472942
Marion449083
Plymouth434083
Henry339940
Jones331158
Bremer325365
Crawford321644
Carroll317053
Washington315754
Benton312656
Boone308736
Mahaska275453
Dickinson270846
Kossuth251471
Jackson246044
Clay245729
Tama238273
Delaware234643
Buchanan233938
Hardin230847
Page221624
Cedar220525
Fayette220345
Wright217641
Winneshiek215937
Hamilton211752
Harrison198875
Clayton194458
Madison193820
Butler188836
Floyd187742
Mills185224
Poweshiek181036
Cherokee179440
Iowa176425
Allamakee176252
Lyon174441
Jefferson169138
Calhoun168313
Hancock167335
Winnebago164231
Grundy158835
Cass155556
Louisa154949
Shelby151739
Appanoose151249
Emmet149541
Franklin148524
Humboldt147226
Sac144722
Union144237
Mitchell141643
Guthrie138132
Chickasaw137518
Palo Alto131124
Clarke125024
Montgomery122239
Keokuk116232
Howard115622
Monroe114033
Ida107538
Davis103125
Pocahontas99023
Greene98012
Adair95334
Monona94733
Lucas94523
Worth9268
Osceola83717
Decatur74510
Fremont74111
Taylor72412
Van Buren70919
Wayne65123
Ringgold62226
Audubon58414
Adams3914
Rochester
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 52°
Mason City
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 50°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 54°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 54°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 54°
Cooler conditions continue through the week
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events