Home | Friday 17th September 2010 | Issue 739
AS THOUSANDS OF ROMA SUFFER MASS EXPULSIONS IN FRANCE..
Weak to begin with, France’s attempts to deny that recent mass expulsions of Roma people were racist have been dealt a blow after a Ministry of Interior circular ordering evacuation of camps of Roma, as “a matter of priority” was leaked.
From mid-August to early September this year, approximately 1000 Roma were deported from France and 128 Roma camps dismantled. In many cases the deportations were carried out with rough policing, destruction of Roma homes and the confiscation of identity papers. It is believed that the policy could effect up to 365,000 Roma. This is not the first time - France has closed down illegal Roma camps and sent their inhabitants home for years. Last year 10,000 Roma were sent back to Romania and Bulgaria.
Only a couple of days ago, the EU’s Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding drew comparisons between France’s actions and the Nazis who persecuted the Roma during the Holocaust saying, “This is a situation I had thought Europe would not have to witness again after the Second World War.”
In spite of ample information proving that France has been targeting the Roma, including previous expulsions, a piece of paper was required – apparently- to add clout. Reding has now called for the EU to take a legal case against France.
So far Jose Manuel Barroso President of the European Commission has kept quiet, so it remains to be seen if the Commission will act against this gross human rights violation.
Doing so could have implications across Europe, as France is far from the only EU nation that has treated the Roma like they are second class.
LIFE THROUGH A CLEANSE
The incident which officially triggered this wave of expulsions (or ethnic cleansing) was a clash between Roma and police in the Loire valley in July.
Some Roma set upon a police station after one of their own, 22-year-old Roma Luigi Duquenet was shot dead. According to French police the shooting occured after he knocked a police officer down driving through a check-point.
As a result Mr Sarkozy ordered the expulsion of all Roma immigrants, calling for 300 illegal camps and squats to be dismantled within three months.
By suggesting that all Roma are criminals, France is using security as the reason to justify their actions.
The french authorities are trying to excuse themselves on the grounds that they are only enforcing conditions imposed on migration from Eastern European countries that have recently joined the EU. However, by targeting one ethnic group, France is in fact breaking international human rights law.
Article 18 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union enshrines the right to non-discrimination, and the undisputable fact is the vast majority of immigrants that have been returned home over the past months are Roma. Singling one ethnic group out for less favourable treatment constitutes a clear case of race discrimination.
In a press release from Tuesday 14th September, the Romani Union (a Roma-led NGO based in Spain) stated that it has taken steps to execute a lawsuit of its own saying, “Collective expulsions are prohibited under European law, including in cases where such measures are targeted solely against those who have overstayed the three month residency period allowed under the Freedom of Movement Directive and have failed to register with local authorities.”
According to the Equal Rights Trust, “The cash incentive of 300 Euro for each adult and 100 Euro for each child deported “voluntarily” does not change the fact due process was not followed.
* See www.errc.org