Romanian organisations condemn France's anti-Roma move
Romanian rights groups on Thursday blasted France's decision to tear down Roma camps and expel Roma people who break the law, saying it was a "human rights violation."
"France's decision to expel Roma communities without treating people case by case is a violation of human rights," Magda Matache, head of the Romani Criss non-governmental organisation, told AFP.
"Each case must be treated individually," she insisted, criticising the "lack of cooperation between France and Romania for establishing joint policies for Romas' integration."
Matache said Romania has tried to make "a European issue out of the Roma question", while Paris tried to put full responsibility for the situation on Bucharest.
On Wednesday, before France's decision, Prime minister Emil Boc said Romania and the other European countries "have a mutual obligation concerning the Roma issues."
Foreign Affairs minister Teodor Baconschi also stressed that the nine million Roma living in the European Union were "European citizens" and their freedom of movement could not be impeded.
"Saying that Roma who committed crimes will be expelled is a severe violation of the freedom of movement. The word 'crime' can be interpreted and can lead to abuses," Gelu Duminica, head of the association Impreuna (Together), told AFP.
He also criticised Romania, however, for failing to tackle the problems faced by the minority.
"If Romanian authorities do nothing to improve the conditions of this minority, hit by severe poverty and suffering for limited access to education and jobs, they cannot call on Europe to resolve this issue," he added.
Romania is home to one of the most important Roma communities in Europe. It counts about 535,000 people officially, but is probably closer to 2.5 million people, according to NGOs. Fearing discrimination many do not declare their ethnic origin.
Following crisis talks called by President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday, about 300 illegal "camps or squats" housing Gypsies and travellers in France are due to be closed in the next three months and foreign Gypsies breaking the law will be immediately deported.
© 2010 AFP