Court rejects call to suspend immigrant database
PARIS, Nov 8, 2006 (AFP) – A French court Wednesday rejected a rights group's demand that work be halted on a national database that would collect information on illegal immigrants.
The judge of the State Council — France's highest administrative court — said he would not grant the request that work on the database be suspended because the new computer system was not yet operational and therefore there was no urgency.
He did say, however, that the court would examine the legality of the database within the next four months.
The rights group SOS Racisme had Tuesday asked the court to suspend development of the database, claiming it would violate privacy laws.
France's interior ministry has rejected that allegation, and described the database as a “simple management tool” in the fight against clandestine immigration.
The ministry has started work on the database, called Eloi, into which police enter the name, sex, nationality, parents, languages, photograph and identity document of illegal immigrants.
It also contains the name and address of anybody lodging the foreigners, as well as those of any visitors to immigrants in holding centres.
The data would be kept for three years after the date the immigrant is deported from France, with police and other officials permitted to consult it.
The database is one of a series of measures Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has introduced to crack down on illegal immigration to France.
Sarkozy has been positioning himself as a champion of law-and-order policies in order to contest presidential elections due next year.