Amnesty International Urges France to Heed European Union Call to End Roma Discrimination

Press Release
September 10, 2010

Amnesty International Urges France to Heed European Union Call to End Roma Discrimination

Amnesty International Media Release
For Immediate Release
Friday, September 10, 2010

Amnesty International Urges France to Heed European Union Call to End Roma Discrimination

Contact: Media Relations Office, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) Amnesty International has urged the French authorities to comply with a European Parliament resolution to suspend its policy of mass expulsions of Roma from the country.
"The European Parliament has taken a strong stand -- now France must show it is committed to the respect of human rights and the non-discrimination of particular ethnic groups, including Roma and Travellers," said David Diaz-Jogeix, deputy director of Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia program.

European Members of Parliament passed a key resolution in Strasbourg, France, on Thursday demanding that governments across the continent promote the integration of Roma.

France has deported around 1,000 Roma to Bulgaria and Romania since August and has been accused by Amnesty International of "stigmatizing" both Roma and Travellers communities living in the country.

"President Nicolas Sarkozy can start by ending the cycle of discrimination that has led to the mass expulsions of Roma communities from France," said Diaz-Jogeix. French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly referred to irregular camps inhabited by Roma as "sources of criminality" at a meeting in July. Since then, several camps have been dismantled.

The European Parliament on Thursday expressed its deep concern at "the inflammatory and openly discriminatory rhetoric of the political discourse" as well as "the measures taken by the French authorities and other member states' authorities targeting Roma and Travellers." Amnesty International, as part of the European Roma Policy Coalition comprising several anti-discrimination and human rights groups, had on Wednesday called on the European Union to adopt the resolution on Roma inclusion.

“We must now ensure that the proposed measures produce lasting improvements to the lives of Roma people throughout Europe,” said the Coalition spokesman.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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