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France

Police deny racial file on Roma

AFP

A top French cop on Wednesday denied charges that gendarmes have compiled a racially based file of Roma in France. Four groups launched legal action over its alleged existence last week.

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“I wish to put a stop to allegations [which] discredit out institution,” the director-general of the gendarmerie, General Jacques Mignaux, told a parliamentary commission Wednesday, dubbing the charges an attempt at destabilisation.

Four Roma and travellers’ groups took legal action on Wednesday 6 October, claiming that a file known as Minorités ethniques non-sédentarisées (Non-sedentary ethnic minorities) – or Mens – had been established by police specialising in combating delinquency amongst travellers.

The case prompted an inquiry by the Cnil, the official body charged with overseeing privacy and the internet. Mignaux told the MPs that the investigation had proved “the absence of any computer files … using ethnic criteria”.

The accusations surfaced after a power point presentation given to transport business leaders in Lille in 2004 came to light.

Campaigners claim that slides presented a heading called “Genealogy of gypsy families”, a map showing the whereabouts of Roma families and a list of Roma charged with crimes, broken down into nationality. The information could only be provided if a file of Roma existed, they claim.

The French state does not officially categorise people according to ethnic group and any state body doing so would be breaking the law.
 

France’s deportation of Roma, after President Nicolas Sarkozy promised a law-and-order crackdown in the summer, has sparked charges of racism at home and across the rest of Europe.

 

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