Romanian Parliament Condemns the Expulsions of Roma from France
Today, Romania’s parliament condemned the expulsions of Roma from France and other European states, calling the process a “serious violation” of European Union directives and human rights. The Romanian legislators are thus joining the E.U. Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, who said last week she was “appalled” by France’s policy. Commissioner Reding also made a promise that the commission would consider starting legal proceedings against France on September 29. The United States needs to follow suit. This week, Human Rights First and other rights groups urged U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to comment publicly on this violation of human rights. Romanian President Traian Basescu had also asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy to stop the expulsion of Roma from France, stressing that relations between the two countries remain friendly. Basescu urged Europe to try to solve the problems of the Roma. Mr. Basescu was involved in several Roma-related controversies over the years, including one that was reported in Human Rights First’s 2008 Hate Crime Survey: “the president was widely quoted after an incident on May 19, 2007, in which he insulted journalist Andreea Pana, dismissing her by asking ‘don’t you have anything to do today?’ and commenting: ‘how aggressive that stinky gypsy was.’ (He subsequently apologized).” Good to see he has spoken up against this current disgrace. Our joint letter urges U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to comment publicly on the expulsions of Roma from France and the discourse of intolerance used by some French politicians. The letter was also signed by Amnesty International USA, Council for Global Equality, European Roma Rights Center, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Open Society Institute, and the Public Interest Law Institute. “Your support would not only draw attention to this particular violation of human rights, but also signal to other countries where Roma are facing significant challenges that the U.S. takes seriously discrimination and collective action against ethnic minorities,” notes our letter to Secretary Clinton.