French police are being investigated after a video was released purporting to show officers in Calais using violence against migrants as they attempted to board lorries headed for the UK.
The country’s human rights ombudsman Jacques Toubon said that he would “investigate" the footage that emerged allegedly showing Calais police kicking, pushing and allegedly using pepper spray on migrants thought to be from Africa and the Middle East.
In the two-minute clip released by migrant support group Calais Migrant Solidarity, the officers appear to apprehend the migrants as a large group of them attempt to break into the lorries as they wait for entry into the port in Calais.
One officer man is seen pushing a migrant over the road’s guard rail, while another is filmed appearing to threaten the group of migrants with a baton.
Watch the full video below
In other videos taken by Calais Migrant Solidarity on the same day, police are apparently filmed harassing and acting violently towards other migrants.
The majority of migrants are thought to be from Africa and the Middle East and are in Calais waiting to enter the UK.
According to French authorities, the numbers of migrants in Calais have soared over the last 12 months as a result of conflicts in countries like Sudan, Eritrea and Syria.
There are believed to be 2,400 migrants currently staying in Calais.
This growth in migrant numbers has led to an increase in reports of violence and abuse by the police.
A report by Human Rights Watch in January, reported that 44 migrants had witnessed violence by the police.
The report was later dismissed as “bias” by France’s interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
Following the release of the latest footage, prosecutor Jean-Pierre Valensi of Boulogne-sur-Mer near Calais called on the police’s inspection body to review the footage.
He said if any of the offending officers were found guilty, they could be “liable to be classed as criminals.”
France’s national police headquarters said an inquiry into the allegations of police violence was under way.
However, one police chief said that it was important that the images were put into context. Gilles Dobove of the police union Unité SGP-Police FO, said: “This wasn’t just any ordinary day. There were around 2,000 lorries in the sector between the tunnel and the port
“Hundreds and hundreds of migrants stormed the lorries.
“When three police officers open a lorry and find five migrants inside who don’t want to leave, how do you want to get them out?”Reuse content