People from the Roma community walk with their belongings as French police forces expel them from their camp in Evry, near Paris, on August 27, 2012. (File photo)
A group of independent United Nations human rights experts have criticized France’s Socialist government over recent dismantling of Roma settlements, accusing Paris of failing to live up to its commitments on international human rights conventions.
“Forced eviction is not an appropriate response and alternative solutions should be sought that conform with human rights standards,” the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, said on Wednesday.
“Legal safeguards must be in place, including the provision of adequate housing alternatives to ensure that individuals, particularly children, women and those with illnesses or disability, are not left homeless or vulnerable,” she pointed out.
The UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Rita Izsak, also said, “These reports are disturbing, especially because it is not the first time that Roma are collectively expelled from France.”
She added, “The Roma are European Union citizens and Europe’s most marginalized minority.
“Regrettably, these acts demonstrate that they do not always enjoy the same right of free movement and settlement, and continue to experience discriminatory treatment,” Izsak said.
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Francois Crepeau, highlighted that collective expulsion is banned under international law and any repatriation should be “voluntary, in compliance with international standards, and based on individual assessment and independent monitoring.”
Meanwhile, the Special Rapporteur on racism, Mutuma Ruteere, warned that “these evictions and expulsions are inevitably fuelling the already worrying climate of hostility against Roma in France.”
He highlighted the importance of enhancing the efforts to tackle marginalization of Roma in the sphere of housing and employment and facilitating their social inclusion.
Human rights groups have accused French President Francois Hollande of taking the same harsh tack as his center-right predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.
Sarkozy sparked an international outcry in 2010 with a highly publicized campaign of Roma expulsions.
An estimated 15,000 ethnic Roma, mostly originating from Bulgaria and Romania, currently live in makeshift camps across France.