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UN rebukes France for mass-deportation of Roma

The UN has criticised “discriminatory” political speeches in the country.

Roma children sit next to luggage upon arriving with a group of about 300 Romanian Roma people from France, in Bucharest, Romania

THE UNITED NATIONS has urged France to discontinue deporting Roma Gypsies, adding that it was concerned about “discriminatory” political speeches in France.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said that the French authorities should acknowledge individual circumstances when considering deportation – and stressed that collective deportation was not the solution.

However, the French authoties have defended their actions regarding the action, saying that they have been “scrupulously respecting European law”.

France began repatriating groups of Roma, most of whom had arrived in France from Romania, earlier this month. Authorities broke up illegal camps where the Roman had been camping and arranged for thousands of men, women, and children to board planes out of the country.

Families and individuals who agreed to leave were given money: each adult received €300 and each child €100.

France has stressed that although the Roma are entitled to live and work in France as EU citizens, if a person has not secured a work permit within three months of arriving they cannot stay. Those who support the action have said that the camps in which the Roma were living were illegal.

However, Roma complain that they find it extremely difficult to find employment and that the are forced to live in camps.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that 300 illegal camps are to be removed.

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The UN has urged France to focus its attention on integrating Roma into their society and providing them with access to education, health care, and housing rather than deporting them. Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Europe.

The UN also says that, despite reports that said the Roma had volunteered to leave France, many did not fully understand their rights.

Opposition parties say that by taking such an extreme approach, Sarkozy is attempting to hold on to support for the 2012 elections. His government’s popularity has taken a sharp dive recently.

The UN committee also targeted what it viewed as discriminatory rhetoric used by French politicians, saying that the country should:

…intensify its efforts using all means, notably by firmly condemning all racist or xenophobic discourse by politicians and taking appropriate measures to combat the proliferation of racist acts or manifestations on the Internet.

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