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Three failed asylum seekers forcibly deported

Article published on the 2009-10-21 Latest update 2009-10-22 10:09 TU

Protests in Lille against the joint charter flights.(Photo: Reuters)

Protests in Lille against the joint charter flights.
(Photo: Reuters)

Three Afghan asylum seekers were deported from France on Wednesday, in an unusual move for the country. The three men, originally from Kabul, were sent back on a joint charter flight with Britain despite protests from rights groups and the opposition.

Speaking to French radio station Europe 1, French immigration minister Eric Besson confirmed the three had been picked up at Roissy airport by a flight carrying an unspecified number of deportees from Britain. It is the first joint migrant charter organised by the two countries since 2005.

“We scrupulously respected the rights of these people,” he said. “All had the opportunity to apply for asylum. Our asylum body the Ofpra, rejected their applications.”

Besson said that 180 Afghan citizens in France had voluntarily returned to their country since the beginning of the year. He also pointed out that many other European countries regularly deport illegal immigrants from Afghanistan.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy recently announced France was to resume the joint forced repatriation flights with Britain on the condition that deportees are sent back to areas deemed “safe”.

Last month a migrant camp near Calais known as “the jungle” was raided by French police. Dozens of refugees attempting to enter Britain illegally were detained, many of whom were minors.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the EU’s justice commissioner say that countries should not round up migrants but offer them fair asylum rights across the EU.

On Friday a plane carrying failed Iraqi asylum seekers from Britain was turned away at Baghdad airport. An Iraqi army official bordered the plane and ordered British immigration authorities not to send anyone back by force again. Twenty –nine out of the 39 Iraqis on the flight have been returned to Brook House immigration centre in Britain.

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