The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has added her voice to criticism of France over its drive to repatriate Roma living in illegal camps.
The latest attack on the crackdown was heard at the UN Human Rights Council, meeting in Geneva.
“Such measures can only exacerbate the stigmatisation of Roma and the extreme poverty and exclusion in which they live,” said Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “I urge European States, including France, to adopt policies enabling Roma people to promote social cohesion and to overcome their marginalisation.”
A leaked government memo appearing to show the Roma ethnic group had been singled out for expulsion has been slammed by rights groups.
The European Commission has stressed that EU rules forbid any part of the population being targeted because of its ethnic origin.
Denying any knowledge of the document, France’s Immigration Minister Eric Besson rejected claims that Roma have been stigmatised. He also stressed that the expulsion of illegal immigrants would continue.
France has repatriated more than 1,000 Roma in recent weeks. The European Parliament has already accused it of breaching EU rules on discrimination and the free movement of people.