We encourage photography, video, sound recording, and all other documentation of repression by police and state officials, and of non-state fascists. And we believe that positive reporting of our work, and of the general situation in Calais, can be an important part of the struggle.
However, over the years we have repeatedly encountered a number of problems arising from the irresponsible use of photography and other media tools. For example, taking photographs of migrants’ faces in particular can create real risks for people. The use of cameras can alienate and disempower people, and create mistrust. For these reasons, we have agreed a number of points:
(a) No Borders does not, in general, endorse or get involved in photo projects, except for our work of documenting repression. We will not act as an introduction service for photographers looking for migrants. People doing photojournalism, or other photography or video or sound projects, must make clear that they are not doing this as part of No Borders. The No Borders office and other infrastructure is not available for use by such projects.
(b) We will make exceptions only where these are agreed collectively, in advance, by the No Borders group in Calais. If someone contacts us with a specific project idea, we may invite them to present this to the collective, either in person at a meeting or in writing.
(c) In all cases, we demand that everyone use photography and other media tools responsibly and sensitively. This includes making sure that no sensitive information is disclosed, and that any migrants and/or comrades who are identifiable in images or recordings have actively given their consent to this. If there is any doubt about full consent, all faces and other identifying features must be blurred beyond recognition.
Can Calais Migrant Solidarity provide me with information on the situation in Calais?
As a group which has been staying and working with migrants in Calais consistently since summer 2009, we have gained a considerable insight into the situation of migrants in the area, and the police harassment of them. So, within reason, we would be happy to share this information. If you give us a call on 00 33 75 34 75 159, we may be able to arrange to meet up in Calais for a chat. Alternatively, you can email us on calaisolidarity [at] gmail.com.
***We unequivocally refuse, however, to engage in any dialogue with reporters from *The Daily Mail* or *The Express* newspapers, which have repeatedly misrepresented migrants and their situation for their own agenda.***
Can Calais Migrant Solidarity introduce me to migrants in Calais?
No. Whilst we appreciate that you may be very sympathetic to the situation, we have a policy of not ‘introducing’ either journalists or researchers to migrants in Calais. The reason for this is that we have spent a long time battling various barriers to trust in order to work as closely as we can with people.
With a continuously changing population in Calais, frequent linguistic hurdles, and plainclothes police operating in the area as well as other places along migrants’ routes, in the past some migrants were suspicious of us and our agenda. We have worked hard to overcome this, and plenty of people have gone out on a limb to trust us. As a result, our relationship with sans-papiers in Calais is currently very good. We cannot afford to jeopardise that by bringing journalists or other researchers into peoples’ communities (even though we would never do it without their consent).
Can you put me up if I come to Calais for my project/report?
Unfortunately not. Sleeping space is limited and even though we often stay in migrant communities, it is often needed for activists recovering from very tiring work!
Who else might be able to help me with my work?
You could talk to migrants yourself. You could also try talking to volunteers from the charities Salam, Auberge des Migrants, Medecins du Monde or Secours Catholique; who between them do varying degrees of work with people in Calais.
If none of your questions have been answered here, then please get in touch at calaisolidarity [at] gmail.com