Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Spain's El Hierro to become world's first self-powered island

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bellwether for what not to do

Read more

ENCORE!

Luc Besson back in action with Scarlett Johansson in 'Lucy'

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Iraq: Kurdish forces fight to protect Yazidis

Read more

DEBATE

Libya unrest: National Assembly asks for UN help to dissolve militias

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

#IceBucketChallenge and hashtag activism

Read more

  • Ex-PM Juppé announces bid for 2017 French presidential race

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • A new view on Normandy landings, 70 years on

    Read more

  • Dozens killed as landslides strike Japan’s Hiroshima

    Read more

  • Deadly airstrikes hit Gaza as ceasefire with Israel collapses

    Read more

  • Tentative peace in Ferguson despite second fatal shooting

    Read more

  • Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

    Read more

  • WWII anniversary highlights best - and worst - of Paris police

    Read more

  • Headscarf at the beach sparks French MEP’s fury

    Read more

  • Iraqi army clashes with militants in Tikrit after retaking key dam

    Read more

  • Video: Life in under-siege Donetsk

    Read more

  • Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

    Read more

  • ‘Let it be’: Londoners sick of Abbey Road tourists

    Read more

France

Officials defend policy on Roma after UN cites rise in 'racism'

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-08-12

French officials emphasised the legal grounds for recent actions taken against nomadic immigrants such as Roma after a UN panel on Thursday said a lack of "political will" was allowing a "resurgence of racism and xenophobia" in the country.

AFP - France on Thursday sought to fend off sharp criticism from the UN's anti-racism panel after members highlighted a "resurgence" in racism and xenophobia in one of Europe's biggest nations.
   
French officials underlined the legal grounds for measures being taken against travelling Roma from central Europe as the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination wrapped up its hearing on France's application of international standards.

The panel of 18 legal experts is due to issue its findings on August 27.
   

Roma people in France: easy target for discrimination?

On Wednesday, several of the independent experts began the hearing with unusually sharp comments about the state of racial discrimination in France.
   
Despite legal safeguards, the country is experiencing a "significant resurgence of racism and xenophobia", Kokou Ewomsan, a Togolese human rights official, told the French delegation.
   
France's treatment of Gipsy communities, the debate on national identity and immigration, minority rights and a hardening political discourse were all questioned.
   
US lawyer and former State Department official Pierre-Richard Prosper, vice chairman of the committee, pointed to a lack of "real political will".
   

“Travelling people” (“gens du voyage”) is the legal term established in 1969 to refer collectively to nomadic communities on French territory that live in mobile homes or trailers and have both French nationality and a permit allowing them to move freely around the country.

The Roma, who come mainly from Romania and Bulgaria, are not included in this category under French law.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy last month announced draconian security measures on traveller communities following a spate of urban violence.
   
He has also threatened to strip foreign-born nationals of French citizenship if they committed some crimes.
   
One UN committee member said some of the measures on Gipsies were reminiscent of the period of France's Vichy government, which collaborated with the German Nazi occupiers in World War II.
   
French officials told the committee on Thursday that under EU agreements on the accession of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007, restrictions could be imposed on free movement of citizens from those countries for seven years.
   
Returns to their home countries were also in line with European law for those who were jobless and represented a social burden, they argued.
   
"All the measures are taken in the context of voluntary return, accompanied by humanitarian aid," added French immigration ministry official Frederique Doublet.
   
France was also reviewing domestic permit requirements on traveller communities, thought to number 300,000 mainly French people, the delegation said.
   
However, they declined to comment on the issue of removing citizenship, saying draft legislation had yet to be drawn up.
   
Malik Salemkour of the League for Human Rights, a French pressure group, described the hearing as an unprecedented grilling for France.
   
The committee oversees the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which has been ratified by 173 nations.
   

 

Date created : 2010-08-12

  • FRANCE

    UN body calls attention to growing problem of racism in France

    Read more

COMMENT(S)