Hazardous confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic: The fate of migrants detained yet nondeportable

Fassin D.
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Source Title
Journal of Human Rights


As the French government decided on a lockdown of the population to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it soon appeared that, in an apparent paradox, two forcibly confined categories were particularly at risk: prisoners and detainees. Confronted with multiple mobilizations from civil society, authorities reacted in two distinct ways, significantly reducing the demographic of correctional facilities to allow for protective measures, but refusing to temporarily close detention centers, despite their insalubrious conditions and the impossibility of organizing deportations. These differential policies reveal an implicit moral hierarchy, in which undocumented migrants occupy the lower segment of the social scale, as well as a politics of indifference, which inculcates in them the illegitimacy of their presence and the unworthiness of their lives. Rebellions, self-harm, and hunger strikes are attempts to denounce and resist this intolerable situation. © 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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