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4 Hum. Rts. Brief 1 (1996-1997)

handle is hein.journals/huribri4 and id is 1 raw text is: HUMAN RI6HTS
Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

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Plight of France's Sans-Papiers Gives a Face to
Struggle Over Immigration Reform
by Christian E. O'Connell

Three years after the passage of
severe anti-immigration statutes,
the French government is con-
sidering reforms to the controversial
legislation known as the Pasqua laws.
At stake is the fate of thousands of
undocumented aliens, called sans-papiers
(the paperless), who originate primar-
ily from poor African nations.
The Pasqua laws were enacted in
1993 at the instigation of then-Interior
Minister Charles Pasqua, whose vigorous
endorsement of zero immigration set
the tone for recent French policy in
refugee and asylum matters. Touted by
supporters as an effective and neces-
sary tool to combat clandestine immi-
gration, the legislation encompassed a
broad panoply of severe measures.
These measures included a toughen-
ing of visa requirements, a reduction
in the number of visas issued, an expan-
sion of police enforcement powers, an
extension of the permitted detention
period, and a narrowing of the admin-
istrative review scheme. These and other
provisions caused a significant number
of legitimate aliens to become illegal.
A few provisions contemplated in
the original law were struck down in
1993 by the French Constitutional
See page 12 for
Point/Counterpoint on
Trials in Absentia
in the Former Yugoslavia

Court. Since that time, however, legis-
lators have proposed unsuccessfully such
additional measures as fingerprinting
visa applicants from those countries
deemed to pose a high risk of clandes-
tine immigration, restricting access to
medical and social services, and extend-
ing the maximum permissible period of
pre-deportation confinement from 10 to
45 days. Successful subsequent modifi-
cations have made it a felony to pro-
vide assistance to illegal aliens.
The Pasqua laws also contain one
notorious gap that has trapped thou-
sands of immigrant families in a legal
conundrum: undocumented parents of
children who are French citizens cannot
legally be expelled, but are prevented by
the Pasqua laws from receiving resi-
dence papers.
In the last year, France has signifi-
cantly stepped up its enforcement activ-
ities, thereby intensifying public con-
troversy over the Pasqua laws. French
authorities staunchly advocate strict
application of the laws. President
Jacques Chirac asserts that [a] strong
political signal has to be sent so that
those persons likely to immigrate ille-
gally will know that they will have no
luck in France. A recent poll in the
French daily Le Monde suggests that a
majority of voters agree - 67% of those
polled opposed relaxing the immigra-
tion laws.
Humanitarian opposition to aspects
of the Pasqua laws has been led by the
continued on page 1I

Mediation in the
Federation of
Bosnia-Hercegovina
by Peter H. Backes*
The General Framework Agree-
ment for Peace in Bosnia and
Hercegovina (the Dayton Agree-
ment) of December 14, 1995, ended
the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina, but the
implementation of the Agreement has
been successful only in its military
aspect. The Implementation Force
(IFOR), no longer under a weak UN-
structure but a determined NATO com-
mand, was the decisive element in end-
ing the fighting and has prevented the
return of war ever since. The civil imple-
mentation of the Dayton Agreement,
however, has created severe difficulties,
particularly with regard to issues of free-
dom of movement and the right of

continued on page 8

1

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