8. ELOI – a French database to manage the expulsion of illegal migrants
On 26 December 2007, the French government published a decree creating the ELOI file, a database aimed at facilitating the expulsion of illegal migrants. In March 2007, the French highest administrative court cancelled a first attempt by the government to create this file, after 4 French NGOs, among which EDRI member IRIS, filed a case against the Interior ministry.
While the March text was cancelled by the Conseil d’Etat for procedural reasons only, the new version shows some important progress related to concerns raised by the NGOS. The main changes are that no data will be kept on visitors of illegal migrants in retention centres, and that personal data of citizens with which illegal immigrants are staying, when not in retention centres are kept for 3 months rather than 3 years.
While this step backwards from the government side is a direct result of the French NGOs action, the ELOI database remains unacceptable, according to the authors of the former complaint, with regards to the migrants themselves and their families. The duration of the retention of their data remains 3 years for most of the data, and data on their children are still kept in the ELOI file. Last but not least, the database still contains data on “the need for specific surveillance (of the migrant) with regards to the public order’. According to the NGOs, this demonstrates that the government makes a direct association between immigration and criminality.
Moreover, the decree contains new provisions, adding to the ELOI database an impressive amount of administrative and judicial data dealing with all aspects of the expulsion process, most of them to be retained for 3 years. In addition, a new purpose has been set to this file, which is to produce statistics on expulsion decisions and their actual executions.
These problems, as well as the Sarkozy administration setting up quantitative objectives – a minimum of 25000 expulsions targeted in 2008 – have made the French NGOs declare that the actual meaning of this file is the government willingness to manage the expulsion of migrants at an unprecedented level. They consider that with the ELOI database, this expulsion policy has reached an industrial level.
(Contribution by Meryem Marzouki, EDRI member IRIS – France)
So how long will it be before the French public are treated as Eloi too?