The Sciences Po Law School Clinic: Law on the ground!

The Sciences Po Law School Clinic: Law on the ground!

  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po
  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po
  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

Two groups of students from the Sciences Po Law School Migration Clinic program visited Malta and the French-Italian border last January as part of their clinical projects. Here are their testimonials.

Migratory Movements in the Mediterranean (Malta)

Fiona and Chloe, two students from the Migration Clinic of the Law School and their tutor (a lawyer and member of the Gisti) went on a one-week observation mission to Malta to investigate the reception conditions of asylum seekers arriving in the country. The field inquiry, which was carried out in partnership with the Gisti (an organisation specialised in immigration law) and Migreurop, will result in a report tracing the path of asylum seekers arriving to Malta from Libya.

The most common route fellows these successive steps: rescue at sea, disembarkation, screening and registration at an Initial Reception Centre, detention, and finally relocation or a one-year stay in an open centre.

"The week was dense in information and emotions and we were able to talk to institutional actors, local NGOs, journalists, researchers and the main people concerned, asylum seekers, originating mainly from South Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia but also from West African countries such as Mali, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire.

In discussions, all of these actors, confirmed that, since 2018, the Maltese government has been systematically detaining for indefinite periods any person rescued at sea or entering the country illegally. Despite months of preparatory research, we were deeply concerned by the unanimous testimonies exposing the inhuman and degrading conditions faced by asylum seekers arriving on the territory. The most striking example is the closed centre of Safi, which appears to be detaining approximately 1000 asylum seekers, including unaccompanied minors within the adult population and alledgedly suffering daily physical and psychological violence, for up to five months in some cases.

Moreover, the conditions in the country's largest open centre, Hal Far Tent Village, which we had opportunity to visit, also remain precarious and alarming. Indeed the numerous riots and protests in the various centres, both closed and open, testify to the situation on the ground and the failure of asylum protection in Malta.

Back in France, we feel committed to the mission of informing the public about the failures of this system, which appears to be in clear and visible violation of European directives as well as the European and international system of human rights protection."

Deprivations of liberty at the Franco-Italian border (Menton)

Sarah and Julien in collaboration with the association ANAFÉ (National association for border assistance to foreigners), carried out a field trip to the town of Menton, situated at the Franco-Italian border, to work on a project on the deprivation of liberty at the border.

Since 2015, France, like other countries in the European Union, has triggered articles 25 et seq. of the Schengen Border Code to reintroduce border controls at its terrestrial borders. This European regulation permits states to lift the principle of no control at the internal borders due to exceptional circumstances related to threats to public order or internal security. While the reinstatement of border controls has generated an uncertain legal framework, the project attempts to examine the conditions under which people at the border stopped by police and often deprived of their liberty before being sent back to Italy.

"The trip was an opportunity to meet different actors working on the ground. We conducted interviews with associative actors and with a lawyer. These exchanges enabled us to better comprehend the consequences the reinstatement of controls have had on the rights of migrants at the border. We observed areas in which migrants are deprived of their liberty. We also had the chance to speak to some of the people who had just been released and were being sent back to Italy.

The field experience will be helpful for the legal analysis that are working on throughout the academic year, which primarily deals with the legal framework on the deprivation of liberty at the Franco-Italian border and the ability for migrants to exercise their rights."

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