ERTF Reaction on recent events in France
By holding a last-minute meeting to look into “the problems created by the behaviour of some Travellers and Roma” as part of the “implacable struggle the government is leading against crime”, the Head of State has at a stroke reinforced stereotypes against this community in the general public’s minds. If the President has been kind enough to mention “some”, why would the eviction measures already announced be collective?
Furthermore, how does the news story involving a settled French citizen of gypsy origin relate to the announced eviction measures which would affect a nomadic French population or migrant Roma, the vast majority of whom are citizens of the European Union? Will we now decide to expel European citizens in retaliation for a crime committed by French citizens ?
Additionally, in order to have a balanced, constructive discussion on Wednesday, representatives of Travellers and Roma should also be seated around the meeting room table? They would contribute fully to the debate with their views on, for example, how the specific legislation they are subject to, unlike any other French citizens, affects the reality they experience on a daily basis.
« Travellers are neither beneath nor above the law » declared recently Minister Hortefeux. But what about the French municipalities with over 5,000 inhabitants, over 50% of whom, ten years after the Besson Law came into force, still do not apply the law relating to the provision of encampment areas?
Mr. Kawczynski, President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum has sent a letter to President Sarkozy in order to clarify the French position and to ensure that Travellers, like other French citizens, will soon benefit concretely from Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité as advocated by the French Republic.
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