UN Human Rights Commissioner: French deportations of Romani people disturbing
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed her uneasiness today over the closure of illegal camps occupied by Romani immigrants in France. Pillay called on Paris to do more to integrate the immigrants, most of whom are from Romania.
Speaking before the 47 member states of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Commissioner acknowledged the French Government's adoption of several new measures to integrate Romani people. However, she stressed that France must make greater efforts so the situation in the country can completely conform to international human rights norms.
Pillay expressed her criticisms one day after French President François Hollande announced that the French Interior Minister and the French Minister for EU Affairs will visit Romania on Wednesday. Speaking on television, Hollande said his socialist government is doing its best to address this problem "right at the source".
In recent months, France has closed many illegal Romani camps around the country and deported some of their residents. Romani and other NGOs protested the moves, as did the European Commission and some socialists in government. Hollande backed his Government's moves yesterday and claimed no more Romani people have arrived in France from abroad during the past four months.
After holding an extraordinary session on this question in August, the French Government announced it would relax labor market restrictions for citizens from Bulgaria and Romania, the two EU countries with which Paris has not yet completely relaxed such restrictions. An estimated 15 000 - 20 000 foreign Romani people live in France. Paris has also asked the EU Member States to jointly address the question of Romani migrants.
The French cabinet has repeated emphasized that the liquidation of illegal Romani camps would continue in France should they be ordered by the courts or should authorities deem the situation in a given place dangerous or an immediate threat to public sanitation. The Government has also stressed that it will continue to deport some Romani people back to their home countries.
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