Border forces officer describes conditions migrants face in the English Channel
And author Leigh Evans, chair of the Facts4EU think tank, said the revelation proved that Mr Macron and his government were simply playing lip service to tackle the problem. The statement, released on July 20 and signed by Interior Minister Priti Patel and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, pledged to “deploy more technology and surveillance vehicles on a large scale to further improve coverage of the French coasts and thus prevent crossing attempts, including through the effective deployment of aerial surveillance.
However, Facts4EU researchers have uncovered a French law introduced in January explicitly banning the use of aerial drones, widely considered the best way to keep tabs on people trying to cross the English Channel, often risking their lives in fragile dinghies. .
Ms Patel signed a payment of £ 54million to France last month, money which it was understood would double the police force along the French coast and allow ‘the effective deployment of aerial surveillance’.
However, the drone edict has been in effect since May 2020 and was renewed in stricter terms on January 12, the Facts4EU report points out.
Surveillance drones are the subject of a French edict
The official sanction applies to agencies of Mr. Darmanin’s own interior ministry – including the police and gendarmerie patrolling the coast.
Last May, legal cases began regarding the use of drones by French police to monitor people who violated coronavirus laws prohibiting the free movement of people in France.
The National Commission for Informatics and Freedoms (CNIL), a privacy protection agency with public powers, then acted to order the end of the use of drones by the police.
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French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin
On January 12, the CNIL officially “sanctioned” the Interior Ministry of Mr. Darmanin “for having illegally used drones equipped with cameras, in particular to monitor compliance with containment measures. He orders the ministry to cease all drone flights until a regulatory framework authorizes it ”.
Importantly, the global orders apply to all drones, including those on the north coast of France.
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An inflatable boat carrying migrant men, women and children crosses the Channel
M. Evans a dit Express.co.uk: ” The research of Facts4EU.Org lays bare the words that President Macron’s French government has lent to the growing crisis of thousands of illegal migrants who have left the shores of France in recent months.
“For the French to ban the use of the most effective means of patrolling its coastal areas to catch smugglers and illegal migrants – before they are escorted by the French navy into British waters – is simply unacceptable.
“Especially when Home Secretary Priti Patel gave them millions of taxpayer dollars to do just that. “
David Jones, Vice-President of the European Research Group
Unfortunately the simple fact is that the French don’t do their job
Mr Evans said: “Unfortunately, the simple fact is that the French are not doing their job. “
Speaking on Wednesday, Clément Beaune, Mr Macron’s Minister for Europe, even called for a new post-Brexit migration agreement “so that we can deport, or direct a certain number of migrants to the United Kingdom in order to they can apply for asylum, ”said Evans. .
He added: “Monsieur Beaune has bizarrely claimed that it is the UK’s responsibility, when he must know that under international law, it is France’s responsibility to deal with illegal migrants on its own. own floor.
Factsheet on Priti Patel
David Jones, vice chairman of the European Reform Group and Tory MP for Clwyd West, said Express.co.uk: “To give Mr. Darmanin the benefit of the doubt, it must be assumed that the CNIL’s order had escaped him when he agreed to accept British money in exchange for his country’s commitment to use drones to patrol the French coast.
“Nevertheless, this must be a huge embarrassment for Mr. Macron and his government.
“I am sure he will want to dispel any suggestion that France used false pretenses to obtain British hard cash and will now take immediate executive action to overturn the CNIL decision and put the drones in the sky on as quickly as possible. “
Express.co.uk contacted the Home Office for comment.