UN Anti-Racism Committee Concerned about Roma Rights in France - The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) welcomes the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) findings on France

24 March 2005

The United Nations body charged with oversight of international law matters in the field of the ban on racial discrimination -- the CERD -- expressed concern this week about issues related to the situation of Travellers in France in its Concluding Observations of the 66th session, February 21- March 11, 2005.

In the run-up to the CERD review of France's compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the ERRC provided the Committee with a report highlighting pressing issues related to the situation of Gypsies, Travellers and Romani migrants in France, and made policy recommendations to the French Government aimed at improving the human rights situation of persons affiliated with these groups. The full text of the ERRC written comments to the CERD is available HERE

In its Concluding Observations, the CERD stated that [it] "remains concerned at delays in the effective application of the Act of 5 July 2000 on the reception and housing of travellers and the persistent difficulties travellers encounter in such fields as education, employment and access to the social security and health system." In addition, the CERD "recalls its General Recommendation XXVII on discrimination against Roma and recommends that the State party should step up its efforts to provide travellers with more stopping places equipped with the necessary infrastructure and facilities and located in clean environments, intensify its efforts in the field of education and combat the phenomena of exclusion of travellers more effectively, including in the fields of employment and access to health service."

Regarding discrimination among security forces and public officials, the CERD expressed concern at "allegations of persistent discriminatory behaviour towards the members of certain ethnic groups on the part of such personnel." Furthermore, the CERD recommended to the French government that it "take the necessary preventive measures to halt racist incidents involving members of the security forces. It should also ensure that impartial investigations are carried out into all these complaints, and that any sanctions imposed are proportionate to the gravity of any offences committed."

As to the situation of immigrants, including Romani immigrants, the CERD "remains concerned at the unfavourable situation faced by immigrants and population groups of immigrant origin in the housing field." Further, the CERD "calls on the State party to strengthen its policy for the integration of immigrants and population groups of immigrant origin, especially in the field of housing, and draws its attention to the Committee's General Recommendation XIX on article 3 of the Convention and General Recommendation XXX on non-citizens."

On the situation of the asylum-seekers, the CERD "remains concerned at the situation of non-citizens and asylum-seekers in holding centres and areas as well as delays in processing applications from refugees for family reunification. The CERD further recommends to the State party that "it should strengthen the supervision of police personnel responsible for the reception and day-to-day monitoring of holding centres for non-citizens and asylum-seekers ; improve the conditions in which such persons are held; set up the national committee to monitor holding centres and premises and holding areas and process applications from refugees for family reunification as speedily as possible."

Commenting on the efficacy of anti-discrimination law in France, the CERD stated that it was "concerned at the fact that the concept of indirect discrimination is applied only in matters of employment and housing." The CERD further recommended to the French government that "it should take all necessary legislative steps to ensure the general application of the concept of indirect discrimination."

The full text of the CERD Concluding Observations are available on the Internet at: http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/docs/CERD.C.FRA.CO.16_En.pdf.

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