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France Defends Mass Deportations Of Roma

Roma arrive from France at Aurel Vlaicu airport in Bucharest.
France has responded to international criticism about its mass deportations of Roma, saying that it is "scrupulously respecting European law."

The French government issued the statement after the United Nations' antiracism committee earlier today urged France to "avoid" the collective deportations of Roma and said it was concerned about "political speeches of a discriminatory nature."

The Vatican also joined in the criticism, saying "one cannot generalize" and deport an entire group of people. The Vatican defended its criticism today, saying it was not interfering in France's internal affairs.

On August 26, France deported 284 Roma from Romania back to Bucharest, despite international calls for Paris to stop the practice.

A total of 8,300 Romanian and Bulgarian Roma have been deported from France so far this year, compared to a total of 7,875 expelled during 2009.

The increase in deportations comes after French President Nicolas Sarkozy began a high-profile crackdown on Roma, citing concerns about crime in the country.

compiled from agency reports