MINELRES: France: ERRC Testifies on Roma Rights Issues at UN CERD

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Feb 23 23:13:03 2005

Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>

ERRC Testifies on Roma Rights Issues at United Nations Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Geneva, Budapest, 22 February 2005.  Today, the United Nations Committee
on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) heard testimony by
the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) concerning systemic abuses of
Gypsies, Travellers and Romani migrants, as that body reviews France's
compliance with international law banning racial discrimination.

On the occasion of the review, ERRC International Advocacy Officer
Cristi Mihalache said, "Beneath the cover of the French Republican
ideology in which minorities are not recognised, official tolerance for
racist acts against Gypsies, Travellers and Romani migrants is the

The situation of Gypsies, Travellers and Romani migrants in France has
attained crisis proportions in recent years. Anti-Gypsy sentiment has
never been addressed well in France, and bans on racial discrimination
existing under French law are rarely if ever applied when Gypsies,
Travellers or Romani migrants are subjected to the severe harms banned
under the Convention. Nevertheless, it is widely held that "racism is
not tolerated in France".

Recently, a number of new laws have severely constricted possibilities
for the expression of key elements of Gypsy and Traveller identity,
while simultaneously providing racist local officials with legal
justification for repressive and draconian measures aimed at -- and
succeeding in achieving -- the exclusion of Gypsies and Travellers from
nearly all aspects of French public life and services.

The application of the combined provisions of a number of laws, policies
and practices has very frequently been to drive Gypsies and Travellers
from municipality to municipality, imposing a state of continuous forced
circulation. Additionally, recent Romani migrants suffer continual
harassment by French police, and find themselves subject to expulsion en
masse from France. Many Gypsies and Travellers believe the full
apparatus of the state is being brought against them, possibly to end
key elements of their culture, or for no reason other than to try to
force them away from French society altogether.

At the same time, for a number of reasons particular to French public
discourse, no serious public discussion involving Gypsies and Travellers
or Romani migrants has taken place. The impact of these various
administratively-led efforts has been to dramatically inflame racial
hatred against Gypsies, Travellers and Romani migrants in France, while
at the same time to damage seriously possibilities for their integration
with full dignity, in accordance with international human rights laws by
which France is bound.

In a written submission provided to the UN Committee in advance of
today's hearing, the ERRC provided documentation of a range of issues
*     Non-Recognition of Gypsies, Travellers and Roma as Minorities
*     Racist Speech/Expression
*     The Problematic Application of Regulations Requiring Circulation
*     Systemic Frustration of the Right to Vote
*     Arbitrary Limitations on Participation in Public Life
*     Arbitrary Restrictions on Freedom of Movement
*     Systemic Inadequate Housing, Characterised by Segregation,
Unhealthy and Polluted Environments, Lack of Basic Infrastructure,
Surveillance and Control
*    Forced Evictions
*    Discrimination against Gypsies and Travellers in Access to Social
Housing and Other Forms of Social Assistance
*    Discriminatory and Abusive Conduct by Law Enforcement Officials
*    Discrimination Against Gypsies and Travellers in the French
Judicial System
*    Discrimination in Access to Public Services
*    Violations of the Right to Work
*    Violations of the Right to Education of Traveller and Gypsy

The ERRC written comments to the UN CERD also detail areas inadequately
covered by French domestic law banning racial discrimination, and
provide factual details on the treatment of Romani migrants which may in
some instances rise to the level of inhuman and degrading treatment. The
ERRC submission concludes with a number of recommendations aimed at
improving the human rights situation of Gypsies, Travellers and Romani
migrants in France.

The full text of the ERRC written submission to the UN CERD is available
at: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2146

For further information, please contact Lanna Hollo: (33 66) 47 16 185

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93

Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax:   +36 1 4132201



The European Roma Rights Centre is dependent upon the generosity of
individual donors for its continued existence. If you believe the ERRC
performs a service valuable to the public, please join in enabling its
future with a contribution. Gifts of all sizes are welcome; bank
transfers are preferred. Please send your contribution to:

European Roma Rights Centre
Budapest Bank Rt.
1054 Budapest
Bathory utca 1

For correspondence, to subscribe and unsubscribe from this list, please
use mailto:office@errc.org