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France Promulgates New Law to Protect Refugees

The United Nations office here reported last night that France has promulgated a new law for the protection of some 350,000 refugees living in French territory, and those who may take refuge there.

Under this law, an office will be created to which will be entrusted the application of conventions, agreements or international arrangements regarding the protection of refugees. The office will issue documents of identity and others which are required by the administration and which are necessary to establish the refugee as a legal person.

The new office will have the power to declare a person eligible for international protection and, therefore, within the mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It will closely cooperate in the execution of its functions with the office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.

The French office will be headed by a director, assisted by a board composed of representatives of the ministries most directly concerned with refugees, a representative of the voluntary organizations, and a representative of the office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.

The office will be administratively and financially independent. It will establish a special link between the administration with whom the refugees deal and the international organizations entrusted with the task of providing international protection.

The new law also provides for the creation of a special committee in which the U.N. High Commissioner for refugees will be represented. To that committee will be referred all appeals against decisions on eligibility or against administrative measures of expulsion. Under the new law, all administrative measures of expulsion taken against a refugee must be suspended until this committee has given its final advice.

A spokesman of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner in Geneva today told journalists that “this new French legislation is to be warmly welcomed.” He emphasized that the new law means that the period of uncertainty which followed the close of the International Refugee Organization “has come to an end to the satisfaction of all refugees in France.”

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