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The French Administrative Tribunal of Lille decided not to suspend the execution of the Pas-de-Calais Prefect’s decree of 10 September 2020, which prohibited the free distribution of drinks and food in certain parts of the city center of Calais, issued in order to prevent health risks and public disorder.
The Administrative Tribunal of Lille observed that Calais currently hosts between 1000 and 1200 migrants and that within one month, in August 2020, the number of those living in precarious conditions had doubled in the city-centre and the immediate region. The situation led the applicant associations to organise the distribution of food and beverages in the city centre. On 8 September 2020, the prefect of Pas-de-Calais asked the Mayor of Calais to stop the distribution. The latter refused and the prefect issued a decree on 10 September 2020 prohibiting the distribution between 11 and 30 September 2020. The applicant associations challenged the decree and asked the interim relief judge to suspend the decree for alleged violation of fundamental freedoms of migrants and the associations.
The judge observed that the state provides the migrants, through an association, with food and water, in accessible places in the city, and there is no indication that the amount or quality would be inadequate. Furthermore, the judge held that there is no proven urgency as the migrants could have access to food and water distributed in other parts of the city and the associations could continue with their distribution activities outside of the area mentioned in the decree. The application was rejected.
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