France and Italy defy condemnations of their anti-Roma actions

By staff writers
September 11, 2010

France and Italy are defying pressure from human rights groups and the European Parliament over their continued mistreatment of Roma people.

Yesterday the French government said that it will not stop deporting Roma (sometimes called gypsies).

Meanwhile, Italian police have resumed the dismantling of Roma camps near Milan and Rome and transferred some of the inhabitants to temporary housing, with the mayor of the Italian capital pledging to accelerate the demolitions.

The Italian government is also proposing legislation to defend and enshrine its anti-Roma stance, in defiance of the European Parliament.

Reacting to the EP's call for deportations to be halted, the French Immigration Minister, Eric Besson said he would work to help 'Roma integration' within Romania.

Critics say this amounts to forced removals, displacement and abuse.

Around 1,000 Roma have been deported from France in recent weeks.

European MPs urged France to suspend immediately its deportations on Thursday 9 September 2010.

Their toughly worded resolution, passed by 337 votes to 245, said that mass expulsions amounted to "discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity".

It warned policy-makers against making "any statements which link minorities and immigration with criminality and create discriminatory stereotypes".

MEPs also demanded strong action by the European Commission and EU governments to support Roma, many of whom live in poverty.

Mr Besson said there was "no question" of Paris complying with the resolution.

Speaking in Bucharest alongside the Romanian Foreign Minister, Teodor Baconschi, Mr Besson played down friction over the issue.

The two men said their countries would work together to try to obtain additional funding from the EU for measures aimed at improving living conditions for Roma in their countries of origin, according to the BBC.

The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy has accused Roma people of turning to crime, prostitution and the exploitation of children.

Human rights groups and Roma activists have accused the President of prejudice and misrepresentation.

The European Parliament is seen as being in a tricky position because, Mr Sarkozy and the right-wing Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi are both important to its political stability.


Keywords:roma | Italy | france
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