Friday, September 30, 2011



Abuse of Roma Worsening in France, Says HRW
By Jack Phillips
Epoch Times Staff
30/09/2011 -
France has continued to expel and evict large numbers of the Roma people, also known as Gypsies, despite the European Commission saying the situation has improved, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

In August, the commission, after giving warnings to France last year regarding the country’s treatment of the Roma, said it was satisfied with the government’s policies.

The deportation of Romanian and Bulgarian Roma people drew international condemnation, with some critics saying President Nicolas Sarkozy is trying to garner popular support ahead of elections that are to be held in six months. Several hundred people were rounded up from makeshift camps and sent back to the two countries.

The New York-based rights group sent a briefing paper to the commission in July, which said France violated its obligations under European Union law and international human rights law when it removed Roma citizens.

“One year and a new immigration law later, Roma in France are still vulnerable to serial evictions, unfair expulsions, and discrimination,” Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at HRW, said in a statement.

In the first three months of this year, France expelled 4,714 Romanians and Bulgarians, compared with more than 9,500 who were deported during the entire year in 2010.

In late August, European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding said she was “satisfied” with how France was dealing with immigrants.

However, HRW said the situation has intensified since mid-September, and “hundreds of Roma” have been displaced from their settlements in Lyon.

“In one case, the police allegedly told a group of 80 to 100 Roma, including many children, who had been seeking new shelter for two days and nights following an eviction, to go to another informal camp,” the rights group said.

On Tuesday, France rounded up more than 200 Roma people from the Marseille camp in the south, with some 150 police taking part in the incident, according to local media reports. Authorities said that if the families cannot prove they can support themselves, then they will be deported.

Under European law, citizens in the European Union can live in any of the member states if they have enough money and medical insurance. France in the past three years has expelled several thousand Roma immigrants.

Regarding the present situation in France, HRW’s briefing says there is “ample evidence” that authorities are breaching EU-mandated law by rounding up and expelling Roma immigrants. Furthermore, officials have failed to sufficiently examine the circumstances of individuals before deporting them.

“The police required camp residents, many of whom do not read French, to sign pieces of paper without telling them what they said, and without leaving them a copy,” HRW said.


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