UN panel tells France to avoid mass Roma deportations
The UN anti-racism committee on Friday urged France to "avoid" the collective deportations of Roma and said it was concerned about "political speeches of a discriminatory nature."
In a series of recommendations issued after a hearing on the situation in France, the 18 experts of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged France to "avoid in particular the collective repatriation" and instead to "strive for lasting solutions."
"The issue of the day is the question of the Roma," said Pierre-Richard Prosper, a member of the panel.
"Our concern is that the removal or return of the Roma has been done on a collective basis rather than examining their individual circumstances so it gives the appearance that a group has been identified rather than individuals."
France had launched a country-wide crackdown on Roma this month after a group of Gypsies allegedly attacked a police station.
The French government said it sent back 283 Roma 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 UN panel described the Roma as victims of "violence with a racist characteristic."
France's crackdown on the Roma community has drawn international criticism. 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 UN panel also spoke out over broader discrimination, such as the French government's threat to withdraw French nationality in the case of the murder of a policeman.
It said it was "concerned by information that measures could be taken in the domain surrounding citizenship with discriminatory consequences based on national origins."
The panel had 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.
The UN panel however dealt sharp criticism against Paris, saying that there was a "lack of political will" to deal with a worrying resurgence of racism in the country.
© 2010 AFP