DAY 184: Justice?

August 13th, 2016 § 0 comments

So, in the end, the Lille court rejected the demand to demolish the jungle shops, including the kids’ cafe (see two posts back). As my confrère Passeurs d’hospitalités says – it’s a fragile victory, and the state will appeal it, but it’s still a victory.

In my brief legal career, I’ve got used to reading judgments; the International Court of Justice on the Israeli Separation Wall comes to mind,tumblr_n7z2ea0GKk1sv4tu9o1_1280 and the case of the four refugees who were ordered to be reunited with their families on the 20th January.

13886974_10201751146778030_8026742957890945691_nMe and my mates welcoming the refugees at King’s Cross

There tends to be a good deal of preamble (what it’s about, background, and so on), and you have to jump to the bits which reveal the judges’ thinking. And in the good cases (as the ones I’ve mentioned), they’re worth reading. To quote:

’11. Considering that if it’s true that the state provides, via ‘La Vie Active’, at the Jules Ferry centre 2000 to 2500 breakfasts and 3000 t0 3400 lunches, the associations  point our that this is not enough to feed adequately the population on the site, which they estimated 7000 off whom 500 to 700 are children; and moreover the distribution takes place between 9.30 and 11.30; and if the prefect estimates the mean waiting time as eight minute in the morning and thirty minutes in the afternoon, these figures are seriously questioned by the associations and members of the audience; that, in a report dating from October 2015, the Défenseur des Droits revealed the uncertain conditions accompanying the distribution of meals, with a queue of more> on December 1, 2015 in Calais, France. than 500 metres, no shelter, and a possible waiting time of three hours; that so even the prefect’s representative suggested there should be a special queue for children, who are afraid of mixing with adults, and for the infirm, but despite this the situation has not changed; that the associations who were present submitted that as a result of the long waiting times and the tensions and arguments, both adults and children give up the queues; that it is difficult for them to get to the centre of Calais, a long way from the camp, to buy food, but also basic necessities; that the shops who are under attack in the case answer these needs; that they can sometimes, as has been mentioned by witnesses, feed people in difficulty free; that if, as the prefect  claimed, some shopkeepers make 1500 to 1800 euros a month, it’s not proved that these sums are used for the detriment of migrants;

12. Considering, in the third place, that these shops, cafés and restaurants have other purposes which have an equal importance for men, women and children who have arrived at Calais after long and miserable journeys and who, even when they are lodged in State buildings, live in extremely precarious and aimless conditions; that they are peaceful places for the migrants to meet the volunteers who are there at their disposition to help and inform them; that they allow some of them to shelter from bad weather in the day, to rest and relax; that they can charge their mobile phones, which is essential for them to keep in touch with families and friends; that they are also for new arrivals a free resting placer the first nights;

13. Considering, to sum up, that if we must recognise the nuisances, dangers and troubles linked to the presence of these shops, given that the state’s services have the means to put an end to those reprehensible activities, their complete disappearance which is not certainly by itself going to put an end to violence and illegal dealing in the first place, or to the dangers of explosion and fire which stem from the very nature of the site in the second place, would certainly be made to the detriment of the migrants and would surely result in the degradation of their already dubious conditions of life;


(Don’t you just love those semi-colons? How many of them are there?)

Article 2. The request of the prefect of Pas-de-Calais is rejected.

What is welcome here is that the Lille judges are repeating exactly the same points that the defenders of the camp have been making all along – see for example Nik Nak’s post which I reposted earlier.  Judges do sometimes see the light in this way, though not invariably; the same court at the end of February inexcusably allowed the demolition of the southern half of the jungle to go ahead, and it was accompanied by great violence.

susiya And recently the Israeli Supreme Court has placed the fate of Susiya village in the hands of far-right minister Lieberman.

What does law have to do with justice, then? Sometimes they seem to touch, my legal studies didn’t give me much help in determining when. I have to leave you with Auden’s confusing reflections:

Law Like Love

Law, say the gardeners, is the sun,
Law is the one
All gardeners obey
To-morrow, yesterday, to-day.

Law is the wisdom of the old,
The impotent grandfathers feebly scold;
The grandchildren put out a treble tongue,
Law is the senses of the young.

Law, says the priest with a priestly look,
Expounding to an unpriestly people,
Law is the words in my priestly book,
Law is my pulpit and my steeple.

Law, says the judge as he looks down his nose,
Speaking clearly and most severely,
Law is as I’ve told you before,
Law is as you know I suppose,
Law is but let me explain it once more,
Law is The Law.

Yet law-abiding scholars write:
Law is neither wrong nor right,
Law is only crimes
Punished by places and by times,
Law is the clothes men wear
Anytime, anywhere,
Law is Good morning and Good night.

Others say, Law is our Fate;
Others say, Law is our State;
Others say, others say
Law is no more,
Law has gone away.

And always the loud angry crowd,
Very angry and very loud,
Law is We,
And always the soft idiot softly Me.

If we, dear, know we know no more
Than they about the Law,
If I no more than you
Know what we should and should not do
Except that all agree
Gladly or miserably
That the Law is
And that all know this
If therefore thinking it absurd
To identify Law with some other word,
Unlike so many men
I cannot say Law is again,

No more than they can we suppress
The universal wish to guess
Or slip out of our own position
Into an unconcerned condition.
Although I can at least confine
Your vanity and mine
To stating timidly
A timid similarity,
We shall boast anyway:
Like love I say.

Like love we don’t know where or why,
Like love we can’t compel or fly,
Like love we often weep,
Like love we seldom keep.

Or Johnny Cash, if you find he gives you more help on being on being on this side of the law.


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