French governmental memo points to targeting of Roma
An internal letter issued by the French Interior Ministry this summer appears to contradict government assertions that recent illegal-immigrant expulsions did not specifically target Roma, the newspaper Le Parisien reported Saturday, dpa wrote
The departmental note, sent to prefects in early August, read that "within three months, 300 illegal camps are to be dismantled, predominantly those of the Roma."
President Nicolas Sarkozy's centre-right government has been under fire since late July, when it started repatriating Roma living in illegal camps, either via a voluntary 300-euro (385-dollar) payout or an expulsion order for those deemed a threat to public order.
Immigration Minister Eric Besson had as recently as Thursday rejected the suggestion that France was targeting the Roma, or Gypsies, specifically.
"France has taken no specific measure against the Roma," he said. "The treatment given these people has no connection with their real or supposed membership of the Roma community."
The French crackdown has drawn criticism from the European Parliament, left-wing opposition, the Vatican, a human rights panel at the United Nations and Romania, where most expelled Roma were sent.