Maître Gabriel Lassort is a lawyer at the Bordeaux Bar. A member of the Institute for the Defense of Foreigners, he notably defended young people from the Kabako and Mehmet Yalçin, a Kurdish activist expelled to Turkey. Continuation of our series “Bordeaux with open arms” as part of the Welcome program, which is currently taking place in Gironde.
Maître Gabriel Lassort juggles between criminal matters – he was one of three lawyers for Bernard Seurot, former mayor of Bruges sentenced to 4 years’ suspended imprisonment for corruption – and foreigners’ rights. On this last point, he specifies that it is not a “legally recognized specialty” but a branch of law.
Asked by young people from the former Kabako squat, Gabriel Lassort also defended Mehmet Yalçin, a Kurdish activist expelled to Turkey. Via Cimade, the lawyer regularly performs duty at the Administrative Retention Center (CRA).
More recently, Gabriel Lassort filed a complaint against X with the Bayonne prosecutor, in the context of the Ciboure train accident, which caused the death of three exiles from Algeria and seriously injured a fourth. This Thursday, April 21, the Bayonne prosecutor’s office dismissed the investigation opened for manslaughter.
In 2018, when he had just taken the oath, the Yellow Vests crisis broke out. Gabriel Lassort defends one of them: a young man violently arrested by the BAC, in the Saint-Jean station district, and including the video caused controversy on social media. Placed in police custody, his client was released. No charges will be brought against him. Gabriel Lassort will thus defend many demonstrators:
“I like the idea of fighting against state violence, trying to make judges realize the power they have, although it is legitimate. »
In October 2020, Gabriel Lassort defends the file of an unaccompanied minor and initiates an appeal. And then, it’s a “little snowball effect”. By word of mouth, several young people choose him as counsel, also rejected by the Department on the recognition of their minority.
Through the interim release procedure, the lawyer obtains the care and accommodation, by the Department, of a dozen young people, until now accommodated by Doctors Without Borders. On leaving confinement, these young people find themselves at Kabako, the squat on rue Camille-Godard evicted by the Department in September 2021.
The lawyer regrets the “amalgams” around the situation of unaccompanied minors, the echo of which is amplified in a presidential campaign carried out on a sovereign front:
“There are two types of minors who come to the territory. Those from sub-Saharan Africa or Central Asia often come on their own, with the motivation to fit into the French education and then professional system. Young people from the Maghreb come through networks of smugglers. These are human trafficking networks, young people are drugged and become dependent. When they arrive in France, they have debts and fall into the classic pattern of delinquency. But the latter are residual in terms of percentage. It’s easier to point out offenses than to show integration and success. »
“When we want to welcome, we can”
In the light of the war in Ukraine and the arrival of many refugees in France, Gabriel Lassort denounces the “racism” surrounding this crisis and the welcome given by European countries:
“Of course we have to welcome the Ukrainians, but this crisis demonstrates state racism and hypocrisy. In Calais, a consulate is set up for Ukrainians, where CRS tear down tents and water supplies for migrants. This crisis shows that when we want to welcome, we can. There are also economic sociology studies that demonstrate the added value of immigration, whether regular or irregular. »
Gabriel Lassort also mentions the case of foreign students settled in Ukraine, but who cannot benefit from the temporary protection of the European Union, only granted to refugees of Ukrainian nationality. “What do we do with them? They are told no on the pretext that they do not have the right nationality? “, Asserts the lawyer. For the latter, we must not “hide our face”:
“We can clearly see those who get up early and do arduous jobs: security guards, cleaning, shelving… These are people with an immigrant background. There is a certain bad faith that must be demonstrated. I try, on my scale, to fight against that, especially vis-à-vis the prefecture. »
Gabriel Lassort therefore has no illusions about “the true political color of government action on foreigners policy”:
“The Gironde is not a problematic area in terms of immigration. In Calais I am not saying that everything is rosy with the migration crisis, but we have to ask ourselves the question of the treatment of these people in exile. Should we accept that the police, paid by our taxes, hunt the migrant camps and nick cans of drinking water? »
If his defense work for the rights of foreigners is necessarily dependent on “convictions”, Gabriel Lassort thinks that it is “a bad thing to be too politicized”:
“In the courtroom, we are not a politician. We are there to fight so that the rights of the people we assist are respected. I have convictions, but I never make it a political issue. »