What are the rights of refugees?

What are the rights of refugees in France? Caroline Lantero is a lawyer at Seban Auvergne, lecturer in public law, author of refugee lawpublished by Bruylant editions.

franceinfo: Quite simply, what is a refugee?

Caroline Lantero: The definition is given by an international treaty, the Geneva Convention of 1951. It is a person who has been forced to leave his country and who cannot return there as long as he considers that he runs the risk of persecution. For five reasons: race, religion, nationality, political opinions or membership of a certain social group.

Who grants this refugee status?

The Geneva Convention does not provide for an international body to confer this status, so each State has its own system. In France, it is OFPRA, the French office for the protection of refugees and stateless persons.

What rights are conferred by this status?

First, a resident’s card which is valid for 10 years, together with a travel document which allows travel anywhere, except of course in his country of origin, which would expose the refugee to losing his status. Refugees enjoy economic and social rights: access to education, the labor market, health, social assistance, etc.

Do these rights also apply to members of the refugee’s family?

Yes, especially because most of the time, they themselves obtain refugee status through the principle of family unity. They are the children, the spouse, it can also be the ascendants.

Ukrainians have been able to obtain temporary protection since March. What is it about ?

It is a device created by the European Union in 2001, which had never been activated. It aims to deal with massive and urgent influxes of people seeking protection, in circumstances that do not allow an individual examination of requests for protection.

Moreover, it is not the OFPRA that manages these files, but the prefecture and the OFII, the French office for immigration and integration. It is a temporary residence permit for six months, renewable within the limit of three years, which gives access to the labor market, housing, social assistance and medical assistance.

There is also subsidiary protection, what is it?

It intervenes when the refugee status cannot be recognized, because the person does not exactly qualify as a refugee, but the person still needs to be protected because he is exposed to a risk of execution, torture or indiscriminate violence that would result from a war. The person is protected as a refugee, but with a residence permit for a maximum of four years.




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