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France Defends Deportation of Roma Migrants After UN Criticism

France’s government said it respects human rights “scrupulously” in connection with its deportation of Roma immigrants after a United Nations agency criticized the recent push by President Nicolas Sarkozy to expel some of them.

The Geneva-based UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said today in a report that it’s “worried about the rise of racist behavior and violence against Roma” in France.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in an e-mailed statement that France abides by European and international rules. He said that Roma from Bulgaria and Romania “are European citizens” and can be deported if they do not respect the European Union’s regulations on residence in a member country. Valero said France deports those who “individually” have been found breaching these rules.

The European Commission said last week it was monitoring the situation to ensure France complies with a 2004 European Union directive on freedom of movement within the 27-nation bloc. Romania and Bulgaria are members of the EU.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said yesterday in a speech to French diplomats that the deportation policy is “fair” and that France was “generous and firm.” He said that European Commission President Jose Barroso will discuss policy toward Roma with French government ministers and EU commissioners.

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