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Paris police ordered to drive Roma off streets

French police clear a Roma camp
French police clear a Roma camp

France's government was on the defensive this week after a police note ordering the systematic removal of Roma people from one of Paris's wealthiest neighbourhoods was leaked to the media.


A document from the police commissariat of Paris's sixth arrondissement, which was leaked to the press, instructs officers to identify and remove Roma families living in the street.

Rights groups said the instructions stigmatised Roma people and some police officers were reported to be surprised by the note's strong language.

The interior ministry on Tuesday released a statement saying the note had been rectified without giving further details.

Roma people have been appearing in greater numbers in the sixth arrondissement, which is home to the famous Luxembourg Gardens, the Senate and the posh Saint Germain boulevard.

They have gone there because they have been chased out of camps outside the capital, Claire Sabah of Secours Catholique, a charity working with homeless people, told RFI.

Police in several other Paris districts told Wednesday's Metronews freesheet that they were frequently told to move Roma from city streets.

The European Union and campaign groups have accused France of discrimination against Roma and Prime Minister Manuel Valls has been criticised for claiming most of them do not want to integrate into French society when he was interior minister.

During the recent local council election campaign, the unsuccessful right-wing candidate for Paris mayor, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, claimed that Roma promised to take action to "disperse gangs of Roma" she claimed were harassing Parisians.

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