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UN racism watchdog urges France to stop deporting Roma

Video by Catherine VIETTE

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-09-14

The UN's racism and discrimination watchdog has criticised France's controversial deportation of Roma migrants, urging the French government to integrate members of ethnic minorities rather than expel them.

France faced renewed criticism Friday when the UN’s discrimination watchdog published a much-anticipated list of recommendations in response to the country’s policies towards minorities. 
 
The UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) criticised France for its harsh crackdown on Roma.
 
The 18 experts of the UN committee urged France to "avoid in particular the collective repatriation" and instead to "strive for lasting solutions."
 
Preliminary conclusions were made public on August 12, when CERD highlighted a “resurgence” in racism and xenophobia in France.
 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy last month announced draconian security measures on traveller communities following a spate of urban violence. 
 
He also threatened to strip foreign-born nationals of French citizenship if they committed serious crimes.
 
In August, the country closed illegal gypsy camps and deported hundreds of Roma to Romania in a highly-publicised crackdown against illegal immigration and crime.
 
A state problem
 
CERD vice-chairman Pierre-Richard Prosper on Friday told FRANCE 24 that France as a nation needed to fight a rising tide of racism and xenophobia.
 
"We understand that France has to deal with security issues, but we are concerned that these actions appear to have been done in a collective manner. An entire group is being identified and moved.
 
"France needs to curb this rising tide and take measures to bring some sort of understanding and harmony.
 
"This is a state problem, we are speaking to France as a whole.
 
"We look to the president and others to provide political leadership in the battle against discrimination.”
 
Earlier this month another committee member said some of the measures against the Roma community were reminiscent of the period of France's Vichy government, which collaborated with the German Nazi occupiers in World War II.
 
When the preliminary findings were made public, France defended its policy of deporting Roma, saying that under EU agreements on the accession of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007, restrictions could be imposed on the free movement of citizens from those countries for seven years.
 
"All the measures are taken in the context of voluntary return, accompanied by humanitarian aid," said French Immigration Ministry official Frederique Doublet.
 
CERD oversees the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which has been ratified by 173 nations.

Date created : 2010-08-27

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