France to shut illegal Roma camps and deport migrants

Roma camp in Saint Denis, north of Paris, is cleared by police on 6 July 2010 This Roma camp near Paris has already been cleared by police

Related Stories

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered 300 illegal camps of travellers and Roma to be dismantled.

People in the camps found to be living illegally in France would be expelled, he said.

The order is a response to riots last week in which travellers attacked police in a Loire Valley town after a youth was shot dead.

The government said the camps are sources of crime but critics say an ethnic minority is being singled out.

"Within the next three months, half of the illegal camps will be dismantled - camps and squats - that is to say some 300," said Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux after a special government meeting.

A statement issued by the president's office after the meeting described the illegal camps as "sources of illegal trafficking, of profoundly shocking living standards, of exploitation of children for begging, of prostitution and crime".

'Severely punished'

The meeting was called to discuss the riot in the small Loire Valley town of Saint Aignan, where dozens of travellers armed with hatchets and iron bars attacked the police station, hacked down trees and burned cars.

The riot erupted after a gendarme shot and killed a traveller who had driven through a checkpoint, officials said.

Mr Sarkozy has promised that those responsible for the violence would be "severely punished".

His office also announced that new legislation would be drafted before the end of the year that would make it easier to expel illegal Roma travellers "for reasons of public order".

There are hundreds of thousands of Roma or travelling people living in France who are part of long-established communities.

The other main Roma population is recent immigrants, many from Romania and Bulgaria, who have the right to enter France without a visa but must have work or residency permits to settle in the long-term.

Mr Hortefeux said the new measures "are not meant to stigmatise any community, regardless of who they are, but to punish illegal behaviour".

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Europe stories

RSS

Features

  • Lucy FranklinDouble trouble

    'Rising house prices left me high and dry - twice!'


  • NS Savannah, 1962Nuclear dream

    The ship that totally failed to change the world


  • Ed Miliband takes a selfie at a Cambridge hairdressersNo more photo ops?

    Why is Ed Miliband drawing attention to his public image?


  • Espresso cup7 days quiz

    Which city serves the strongest cup of coffee?


  • Glasgow 2014 quaichs and medalsQuaich guide

    What do the Scottish gifts given to Games medallists symbolise?


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.