Rights group calls on France to halt Roma expulsions

15th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Human Rights Watch called on the French government Tuesday to heed calls from the European Union and halt its "abusive" policy of targeting the Roman minority for expulsion.

The rights organization hailed a sharp condemnation by the EU's top justice official, Viviane Reding, who called the French actions a "disgrace," as coming "not a moment too soon."

The EU's threat of legal action came on a day in which France flew 222 Roma to Bucharest on charter flights from Paris and Marseilles.

France has deported more than 1,000 Roma migrants to Bulgaria and Romania since last month, and more than 8,000 Roma have been deported since the beginning of the year, after 9,875 were expelled in 2009.

Reding said a leaked memo "openly contradicted" assurances by two French ministers that specific ethnic groups had not been targeted.

"France should immediately halt all expulsions and open an independent review of its policy," Ward said. "The government also needs to ensure that evictions from unauthorized Roma camps are not discriminatory and do not leave people homeless."

© 2010 AFP

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