Immigration Strains French Courts to Breaking Point

Illegal immigrants, mostly men from Somalia, Eritrea and Afghanistan protest in Paris
Illegal immigrants, mostly men from Somalia, Eritrea and Afghanistan protest in Paris (Photo: JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)

The French legal system, with its 80,988 public servants and a 2016 budget of $9.5 billion is struggling to keep up with the growing number of cases involving executed or planned Islamic terrorist attacks and jihadists who attempted to travel to or have returned from war theaters in the Middle East.

Attorney General Catherine Champrenault stated that the system is unable to handle the flood of new cases.

Terrorism-related cases are dealt with by the Court of Assizes, which is composed of magistrates only without a jury. The number of cases has doubled from 3-4 per year to 7-8, including that of Abdelkader Merah, brother of terrorist Mohammed Merah, who killed three soldiers, a Jewish teacher and three Jewish schoolchildren in 2012.

There are over 200 civil plaintiffs taking part in this trial. In the proceedings related to the 2015 Islamic attacks in Paris, the number of plaintiffs runs into several thousand.

There are currently more than 250 Islamic terrorists or would-be terrorists awaiting trial detained in French jails. The total number of cases pending in court or under investigation is well over 600.

To this one may add the monitoring of suspected jihadists, whose number is in excess of 25,000. A Dutch police officer recently informed this writer that 24/7 surveillance of the most dangerous individuals requires a team of between 25 and 30 police and intelligence officers for each.

In addition to these urgent national security trials and investigations, the French judiciary is also swamped with cases related to asylum-seekers. These are handled in the first instance by OFPRA, the French refugee office. Appeals against refusal to grant asylum and deportation orders are judged by the CNDA, the national right of asylum court.

The official number of asylum demands increased from 52,762 in 2010 to 85,244 in 2016, of which 26,351 ended up being appealed at the CNDA, a 35% increase over 2015.

The main countries of origin are Sudan, Syria, Kosovo, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Albania. The average time taken for a case to go through the system is seven months and three days.

The CNDA is a branch of the French Administrative Tribunal, a court dedicated to resolving litigation between French citizens and the state. Lawyers complain that the courts are logjammed with asylum cases, with the result that regular proceedings brought before the court may take several years before a judgement is handed down.

Turning to the criminal justice system, Franco-Iranian sociologist Farhad Khosrokhavar, in a report commissioned by the French Ministry of Justice, estimates that between 50% and 80% of inmates in the 187 French prisons are Muslim.

In 2016, the total number of inmates was 76,601. The number of criminal convictions in 2016 was 1,035,604 of which 573,320 involved violence against the person. Of those convicted for violent crime, 37.4% were under the age of 25, 7.8% were minors (under 18) and 15.3% were foreigners.

The Front National has been clamoring for decades that the surge in violent crime and terrorism is directly linked to France’s open-door policy on immigration and its inability to assimilate immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa.

The above figures, should they be exact, would appear to give a degree of credence to those arguments.

 

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Leslie Shaw
Leslie Shaw is an associate professor at the Paris campus of ESCP Europe Business School and president of FIRM (Forum on Islamic Radicalism and Management).