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France must heed EU call to end Roma discrimination, says Amnesty

Amnesty International has urged the French authorities to comply with a European Parliament resolution to suspend its policy of expulsions of Roma from the country.

European MPs passed a key resolution in Strasbourg, France on Thursday 9 September 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 "stigmatising" both Roma and Traveller communities living in the country.

David Diaz-Jogeix, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia programme, said:

"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.

"President Nicolas Sarkozy can start by ending the cycle of discrimination that has led to the expulsions of Roma communities from France."

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 8 September called on the European Union to adopt the resolution on Roma inclusion.

David-Diaz Jogeix said:

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

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