Gendarmes Conduct Illegal Raid in Romani Community in France

13 November 2006

According to a 20 May 2006 press release by the French Romani organisation Cimade, at 6:00 AM on 17 May, French gendarmes illegally raided a Romani settlement in the southern French town of Béziers. Cimade reported that all members of the 15 Romani families from former Yugoslavia, including pregnant women and children, were forced out of their homes and into the parking lot without explanation. Some were reportedly pulled violently from their beds as they slept and were not given the chance to dress.

The gendarmes failed to present a search warrant to the residents prior to searching the houses, which were reportedly legally owned. According to Cimade, the residents stood in the parking lot and watched the gendarmes search their homes, throwing all of their possessions on the ground and destroying property. Personal valuables, such as money, jewellery, cell phones, documents and cars, were reportedly seized during the raid, which lasted several hours. Cimade reported that the gendarmes handcuffed and threatened several residents with guns. During the raid, the residents were not allowed to use the toilet or get warm clothes. Others were reportedly beaten with truncheons, kicked and hit. The gendarmes did not differentiate between women, children and men in their violent action, Cimade reported.

At around noon, most of the men and some of the women and children were taken to the Béziers gendarmerie for investigation. After some time, some of the detained individuals were reportedly released with deportation orders, while approximately 25 people spent the night in custody. Of these, about 20 people were reportedly ordered to remain in custody for four months following court appearances on 18 and 19 May. As of 14 September, no further information was available.



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