UN rights chief slams French Roma expulsions

The Geneva-based UN rights chief on Friday condemned what he described as a "systematic national policy" in France to evict Roma, two weeks after more than 150 people were forced from a shantytown north of Paris.

UN rights chief slams French Roma expulsions
UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. Photo: UNHRC

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said the removal of the migrants from a settlement in the municipality of La Courneuve was carried out with less than the required 24-hour minimum warning and had rendered scores of Roma homeless.

“It is becoming increasingly apparent that there is a systematic national policy to forcibly evict the Roma,” Zeid said in a statement.
He attacked the policy as “punitive and destructive” and called specific attention to France's failure to provide alternative housing to those subjected to forced eviction.
Most of those evicted from the shantytown were living in tents in the town hall and local authorities have in some cases been reluctant to register Roma children in school, according to the statement.
Forced evictions of Roma have persisted across Europe in recent years, including in France, Italy and a number of eastern European nations.
While the treatment of migrants and refugees — mainly from the Middle East and Africa — arriving in Europe via the Mediterranean has dominated headlines in recent weeks, Zeid said the condition of Roma on the continent remained “a serious concern.”
A failure to improve treatment of Roma people “simply exacerbates entrenched popular discrimination against what is already one of Europe's most deprived and marginalized communities.”