France has defended itself against criticism from a United Nations committee over its Roma repatriation programme.
Hundreds of Roma have been deported this month alone.
A report from the Committe for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) noted in particular some of the comments made by French politicians.
Vice-chairman Pierre-Richard Prosper also said:
“We understand that a state has a right and responsability to deal with security issues and issues of immigration and illegal immigration, but our view is when you are doing so, it should not be on a collective basis – you should not be targeting a group as a whole”.
French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, defended his government’s position.
“Yes we accept criticism, as we do praise,” he said. “And there is praise in this report although it has been received in silence. No, we do not accept charicaturisation. No, we do not accept mixing things. The President of the Republic has never stigmatised a minority because of its origins.”
At a meeting last month, Nicolas Sarkozy spoke of the “problems posed by the behaviour of some travellers and Roma”.
As well as human rights group, the European Union and the Catholic church have also criticised current policy.