OSCE joins outcry over France's Roma policy

30th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) joined the outcry over France's policy towards Roma and Travellers, saying on Monday that it risked stigmatising them.

"Implicating the Roma and Travellers collectively in criminal activities based on individual cases could only contribute to stigmatising these communities," said Janez Lenarcic, director of the OSCE human rights office.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy sparked international outrage after ordering police to raid and dismantle 300 unauthorised Gypsy encampments across France, following a public order incident.

Foreign-born Gypsies were expelled back to Romania and Bulgaria and those who left "voluntarily" were given up to 300 euros (380 dollars) each.

Lenarcic, a career diplomat from Slovenia, said that handing out money raised concerns about whether the right of individual migrants to due process was being respected.

Sarkozy's decision has previously drawn criticism from the European Commission, a UN human rights panel and the Vatican.

Lenarcic said: "Recent developments in France come against the background of continuing and growing intolerance toward Roma in a number of countries, as well as insufficient efforts by many OSCE participating States to create conditions for the sustainable integration of Roma individuals and communities."

He reminded France -- a member of the OSCE, a pan-European security forum -- of its obligation to an OSCE action plan which strives for the harmonious integration of Gypsy groups in society.

© 2010 AFP

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