The draft French immigration bill has been under discussion at the Senate since the beginning of February, following the strongly criticised green light given by France's Assemblée Nationale last Autumn.
Senators have already amended the bill to make 'custodial judges' assess the legality of detention within the first two days of detention (as it currently stands), rather than within five days as proposed in the original draft and accepted by the Assemblée Nationale. The Senate has also adopted an amendment providing a suspensive effect on appeals against transfers of asylum seekers to other European countries under the Dublin system, so the person can stay in France while his or her appeal against the transfer is being considered.
However, other problematic provisions remain in the text. For instance, people to be returned could be detained up to 45 days instead of the current maximum of 32 days. People to be returned due to a terrorist act, could be detained up to 18 months.
Also, authorities would be allowed to retain “groups of foreigners” who have just arrived to France in “ad hoc waiting zones” anywhere in French territory.
In a letter to the Senators on 1 February, Forum Réfugiés called for the adoption of a “balanced text, in line with France's tradition of asylum”. Human Rights Watch, the 5 French organisations working in retention centres, the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner, and Amnesty International France have also showed their concerns regarding the compatibility of the law with human rights norms.
The draft law is expected to be discussed again in the Assemblée Nationale on 8 March.