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UN panel attacks French Roma action
Anti-racism panel says France should integrate Roma rather than deport them to Romania.
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2010 18:09 GMT

A United Nations anti-racism panel has criticised France for its crackdown of Roma and urged the government to "avoid" collective deportations of traveller groups.

A UN panel described the Roma as victims of "violence with a racist characteristic", and said the government should try to integrate the ethnic minority, rather than repatriate them to eastern Europe.

The 18 independent experts raised concern on Friday that some of the hundreds of Roma deported to Romania over the last weeks had not been fully informed of their rights or freely consented.

"Our concern is that the removal or return of the Roma has been done on a collective basis rather than examining their individual circumstances," Pierre-Richard Prosper, a member of the panel, said.

"So it gives the appearance that a group has been identified rather than individuals," he added.

Crackdown

France launched a country-wide crackdown on Roma earlier this month, a move that has been widely criticised by politicians and human rights groups.

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The European Union is now reviewing if the move is legal and the Vatican has also spoken out against it.

Members of the UN panel also said they were concerned about "political speeches of a discriminatory nature in France".

These statements were made alongside "a recent increase in the act and manifestation of a racist and xenophobic characteristic," they said.

The French government said it sent back 283 Roma on Thursday, bringing the total number of Romanian and Bulgarian Roma deported so far this year to 8,313, against 7,875 expelled throughout last year.

The panel issued the recommendations two weeks after a two-day examination on whether France had applied the 1965 international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.

During the hearing, the French delegation announced that a national plan to combat racism was being drawn up, without giving details.

Source:
Agencies
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