France's Roma expulsions 'most negative development'
A European agency monitoring human rights violations said Tuesday it was deeply concerned about the treatment of Roma migrants in France, branding it a "most negative development".
"In recent weeks high-ranking officials have made political statements and the government has taken action stigmatising Roma migrants," said the Council of Europe's Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI).
"The latter are held collectively responsible for criminal offences and singled out for abusing EU legislation on freedom of movement. ECRI can only express disappointment about this most negative development," a statement said.
It added: "A policy based on evictions and 'incentives' to leave France, even assuming that relevant human rights standards are complied with, cannot provide a durable answer."
ECRI recommended in a report issued in June that France fight racism and widespread hostility among its population towards the Roma minority.
Racial profiling and some politicians exploiting racial and xenophobic stereotypes persist in France despite progress in fighting discrimination, the report had said.
And on Friday the president of the council's parliamentary assembly, Mevlut Cavusoglu, accused some member states of treating Roma gypsies as scapegoats, warning their expulsions could provoke racist reaction.
"Recent developments in several European countries, most recently evictions of Roma camps in France and expulsions of Roma from France and Germany, are certainly not the right measures to improve the situation of this vulnerable minority," he said.
"On the contrary, they are likely to lead to an increase in racist and xenophobic feelings in Europe."
ECRI is the Council of Europe's independent human rights monitoring body specialised in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance.
© 2010 AFP