A sign of the government’s total improvisation in dealing with the situation of minors during the destruction of the shantytown of Calais (see here and there), the circular outlining the scheme intended to welcome them was published on 1st November. The expulsion began on October 24th, and minors were sent to what were initially called CAOMIE (Reception and Orientation Center for Isolated Foreign Minors), now called CAO MI (the “foreigners” the E disappeared , As if to hide that it is a scheme outside the law to which they have been relegated because they are foreigners). Some have also left these centres and disappeared.

On the subject of those gone missing, the circular provided for “a census of minors to be carried out on arrival by the CAOMI”. Minors who disappeared during the journey would therefore not be counted, would not exist for the administration, which is a little light in terms of child protection.

The text, which organizes the derogation, states that the common law, which is merely  respect for the law, is unwelcome:

“The isolation of minority and isolation in view of integration into the common child welfare system will take place once the hosting option by the United Kingdom has been definitively dismissed. In these circumstances, it is not useful or appropriate for the county (department) council or the designated association to start assessing minors as soon as they arrive. ”

It is therefore not appropriate for the county council, which is in charge of the protection of children, to get involved. But also (perhaps most importantly, because it will be necessary to see what will  be strung together at the legal level in the future), the circular postulates that as long as minors are likely to be admitted to the United Kingdom, they won’t  fall under French law. A sort of legal waiting area, these minor will be as if outside of the French territory as long as it is not sure that they will remain here. But an open waiting area, as it would not displease either the French or British authorities that they disappear into the nature.

The educational assistance measures must be exceptional and take place in the CAOMI:

“As an exception, an educational assistance procedure may be initiated from time to time before the evaluation is carried out … The maintenance of the CAOMI system must nevertheless be privileged as long as it does not endanger the minor concerned. Not withstanding he opening of the educational assistance procedure, it is therefore not necessary to issue a temporary placement order.”

As minors do not have the legal authority to represent themselves , they must be represented in certain situations by an ad hoc administrator. Here is what the circular says:

“The CAOMI propose to the minor to accompany him throughout the administrative procedures related to his file and his project, to assert all his rights. If necessary, they shall solicit the appointment of an ad hoc administrator in accordance with Articles L221-5 and L751-1 of CESEDA to the Prosecutor of the republic territorially competent to assign an ad hoc administrator. ”

First sentence: CAOMI in the absence of a protective measure (excluded by the points explained above) they have no legal capacity to represent the minor in order to assert his / her rights.
“Where appropriate” means the appointment of an ad hoc admnistrator in accordance with Articles L221-5 and L751-1 of CESEDA.

Article L751-1 is a mistake, it concerns persons who have obtained refugee status or subsidiary protection in France. This could be a confusion with Article 741-3, which provides for the (mandatory) appointment of an ad hoc administrator to represent the minor in the event of an asylum application. It is indeed within the frame of an asylum application that the family reunification of minors is organized also within the framework of the European regulation Dublin III. Minors seek asylum in France and are reunited with their family member (s) in the United Kingdom. It is these minors who have the best  legally established chance to gain legal access to Britain.

So normally all minors with family in the United Kingdom go through the asylum application in France and the appointment of an administrator. Except that in the vagueness of the procedure followed by the Home Office it seems that the latter assesses family ties without going through the asylum procedure. The difference is not registration of the asylum application in France, which could justify in certain circumstances a deportation to France rather than to the country of origin. Moreover, the circular provides for a simple “census” of minors by the CAOMI, which therefore leaves no trace of their presence in France on which to base any claim of rights.

Article L-221-5 concerns minors in the zones d’attente. Nothing to do with the situation of these people, except through a slip of tongue: the minors in CAOMI are outside French law, as if outside the territory, until the Home Office has ruled or not on their admission to the British territory.

Finally, in order to keep these minors in legal limbo, it is only after the Home Office has given its answer, after several weeks or months, that it is envisaged that they will be able to join other members of their families – and families who were effectively separated during the destruction of the Calais shantytown. Especially when this member of the family is “a responsible adult identified and located in the national territory if they have parental authority”. Imagine that you had children and that outside of any legal framework they are separated from you and that the administration makes crucial decisions about their future by excluding you entirely. That is what this circular says.

In short, since minors do not have the means to assert their own rights under French law, this circular organizes their exclusion from all the means provided by the law allowing them to assert those rights.

You can download the November 1 flyer here.


Bryan Johnson : Pedestrian