Sunday, September 16, 2012

France will continue to kick out gypsies

France will continue to evict gypsies who camp illegally, the French interior minister said while visiting Romania.

Minister Manuel Valls’ comments today came after French police expelled hundreds of Roma from illegal camps in Parisian suburbs in August and in similarly in Lyon and Lille.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, also expressed her concern about Roma rights on Monday.

In Romania, where more than one million Roma live, Mr Valls said: ‘France has a policy of evacuating illegal camps and of escorting them to the border.’ 

It comes as Romania and France signed a two-year deal to repatriate dozens of Roma families yesterday. Around 80 families will return to Romania under the pilot programme signed by Mr Valls and European Affairs Minister Bernard Cazeneuve during talks with Romanian officials in Bucharest.

An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Roma immigrants live in France

Under the new socialist government, Mr Valls has continued the much criticised repatriation policies of the previous conservative French government and defended the police raids to break up Roma camps on the basis of health grounds.

He said in Romania after meeting Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta: ‘We wish to send a message to the public that... our joint efforts should be focussed on a solution in which the Roma settle in their country of origin, Romania.’

The Roma come mostly from Romania and Bulgaria, fellow European Union member states that human rights groups say discriminate against the minority group.

An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Roma immigrants live in France mainly in squalid camps in city outskirts. The French authorities say they lack the necessary residency permits.

Mr Valls has said in the past that the camps were a ‘challenge’ to ‘people living together’ and that neighbours of the camps often complained about noise and anti-social behaviour, as well as serious crimes.

Humanitarian organisations have also linked the camps to ill health, including serious diseases such as tuberculosis.

The Romanian leader said his country accepted its responsibility to integrate the Roma community, adding that his government needed support from the European Union and France.

Roughly 200 Roma and supporters protested earlier outside the government and president's offices, saying Romanian officials were only pretending to care about the problems facing their minority.

France's actions have come under close scrutiny from U.N. human rights investigators, as well as the European Union, which two years ago criticised a crackdown on illegal Roma camps launched by Nicolas Sarkozy, who lost the presidency in May.

Roma groups accused Mr Sarkozy of ‘ethnic cleansing’.

Romania has been a full member of the European Union since 2007 and its citizens can enter France without a visa.  But they must get residency permits if they want to settle long term and work.


Sheriff Arpaio Appeals Court Decision on Racial Profiling

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is not taking the latest decision surrounding his deputies and racial profiling lying down.  After filing to reverse a lower-court ruling barring his deputies from detaining people based solely on the suspicion that they're undocumented immigrants, a federal appeals court is considering the appeal.

On Thursday a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said it would rule later after hearing from lawyers representing the Arizona lawman.

The ACLU and other attorneys filed a federal lawsuit that alleges that Arpaio's deputies pulled over Hispanics without probable cause, making the stops only to inquire about the immigration status of the people in the vehicles.

A federal judge in December barred Arpaio's deputies, who are enforcing Arizona's immigrant smuggling law, from detaining people based solely on the suspicion that they're in the country illegally. In their appeal, Arpaio's attorneys argued the ruling was deeply flawed and that the decision means that the sheriff's office couldn't enforce certain state laws, even though no judge has declared those statutes unconstitutional.

The San Francisco-based court will consider the narrow question of a preliminary injunction while a trial court in Phoenix is considering the merits of the entire lawsuit.

Both sides are awaiting the verdict of U.S. District Judge Murray Snow after a seven-day trial without a jury ended August 2.

The Latino group claims Arpaio's deputies pulled over some vehicles only to make immigration status checks during regular traffic patrols and the sheriff's 20 special immigration patrols.

They also accuse the sheriff of ordering some of the patrols not based on reports of crime but rather on letters from Arizonans who complained about people with dark skin congregating in an area or speaking Spanish.

Arpaio has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying his deputies only stop people when they think a crime has been committed and that he wasn't the person who picked the location of the immigration patrols.

Snow's verdict could render the 9th Circuit's decision unnecessary. Snow hasn't indicated when he would rule.

The lawsuit marks the first case in which the sheriff's office has been accused of systematically racially profiling Latinos and will serve as a precursor for a similar yet broader civil rights lawsuit filed against Arpaio in May by the U.S. Department of Justice.

There has never been a finding by a court that Arpaio's office has racially profiled Latinos, though a case that made such an allegation was settled last year for $200,000 without an admission of wrongdoing by the sheriff's office.


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