France has no right to expel Roma and flout the rule of law


11:10 am - September 16th 2010

by J Clive Matthews    


      Share on Tumblr

This idea that no one should be above the law was the first principle of the emancipation of the people. Without this fundamental concept, the subsequent developments in Western concepts of liberty and democracy could never have progressed.

For without the rule of law, we are nothing. We survive merely upon the whim of others. All we have and all we are can be taken away in an instant, and there is nothing we can do about it.

In 21st century France, all the Roma have is being taken. Systematically. By the state. Which in turn pleads that it is merely supporting the rule of law, because “they” are in the country illegally.

Even though, in most cases, the French state has no idea precisely who “they” are, because “they” don’t deserve to be tried on a case-by-case basis to determine who is and who is not in France illegally. “They” don’t deserve to be presumed innocent. “They” are just a group of undesirables. “They” don’t have names, or rights. “They” are automatically guilty, merely by being of a particular ethnicity. “They” merely need to be removed.

And yet France has the gall to complain when the European Union’s Justice Commissioner points out the similarities between their current actions towards the Roma and the ethnic persecutions of the Second World War?

I’ve long argued that this is one of my key reasons for favouring some form of supranational governmental structure:

I for one would welcome legal restrictions on the ability of the state to interfere in our lives through unjust laws. I would like there to be lines in the sand, over which no government can step.

The Economist’s new Charlemagne has the best overview of the background to the current crisis over France’s explusion of the Roma, while The European Citizen has the best overview of the implications of French treatment of Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding’s strongly-worded speech:

Meanwhile, France is hitting back in a manner that only further underlines the fundamental problem – the French government’s belief in the divine right of states: “That is not how you talk to a large state,” says the French Europe minister.

How big does a state have to be to be above the rule of law – laws that France has signed up to, lest we forget? Laws that this very French government recently reaffirmed through the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty?

Principles that every member of the UN and Council of Europe has signed up to via the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and European Convention on Human Rights (both of which exist independently of the EU, in parallel to its own rules, so important are these principles considered)?

If France can get away with breaking internationally-agreed laws designed to protect not just ethnic minorities but individuals of any race, colour or creed just because she’s large, can an even bigger country get away with breaking laws designed to protect France? A bigger country like, say, Germany?

Sorry, chaps – but the rule of law is not trumped by who has the most votes, just as it isn’t trumped by who has the most soldiers, or the biggest stick. Being voted into office doesn’t mean you can do what you like any more than being king means you can do what you like. We’ve progressed beyond that stage.

Or, at least, I thought we had.

—-
This is a shorter version of a longer post at EUtopia.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
This is a guest post. Jc Clive Matthews has written about European affairs for years at: Nosemonkey's EUtopia
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Foreign affairs ,Middle East

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


Very much agree with this post.

More accurately, France does have the right to expel Roma, but not to expel them as a group?

Try comparing the experience of Wakefield Council in Britain as described in a memorandum submitted to a HoC select committee:

“Para 2.3 In the year 2003 Wakefield MDC had 71 separate incidents of unauthorised camping, 68% of these were on Local Authority owned land. On every occasion when Travellers moved onto council owned land Wakefield MDC offerred them alternate accommodation on the permanent travellers site. On every occasion this offer was made, it was declined.”
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmodpm/633/633we24.htm

cjcjc – To be very clear: France has the right to deport individual illegal immigrants. France has the right to punish individual criminals. France therefore has the right to deport individual Roma who fall into these categories – on a case-by-case basis.

France categorically does *not* have the right to declare an entire ethnic group to be illegal immigrants and criminals. Each individual has the right to be presumed innocent, and a right to a trial.

The French government has decided that these basic principles don’t apply in this case, and has unilaterally declared all Roma to be guilty, with no right of appeal or reply.

BobB – Your point appears to be that an anecdote from Wakefield justifies the demonisation of an entire people. Or am I reading you wrong?

Pick up the local papers, you’ll read about plenty of examples of white Englishmen getting drunk and starting fights on Friday nights. Does that mean that *all* white Englishmen should be presumed to be violent drunkards? If not, it also means that not all Roma should be presumed to be criminals.

If individual Roma commit crimes, try them for those crimes as you’d try anyone else. If they are trespassing, there are laws to deal with trespass. If they prove to be illegal immigrants, deport them. On a case-by-case basis.

Of course, there’s the wider problem of how Europe deals with a stateless, nomadic minority that no country is willing to accept. Not all Roma necessarily *have* passports, so where, exactly, does one deport them to? And there are, obviously, serious difficulties when it comes to integrating a nomadic group with a settlement/property-based society.

But simply telling them to fuck off and become somebody else’s problem isn’t a solution.

This is a *massively* important issue that *every* European country has been ignoring for far too long. Largely because no one’s willing to speak up for a group with a reputation for being little better than a criminal underclass.

And we all know what happened the last time a stateless European minority didn’t have anyone willing to speak up for them, don’t we?

5. Mike Killingworth

A thought experiment for you all. Suppose the French arrested Commissioner Reding (with or without the use of paratroops). Suppose that the French government then announced that she had died in custody of natural causes. However, by a bureaucratic error her body had been cremated: the French government, with profound apologies, releases the ashes to her grieving relatives.

What action do my fellow Conspirators think, in those circumstances, the rest of the EC (a) would take against France (b) ought to take?

I am not saying the French will do any such thing. But I bet there are people, both politicians and officials, who are fighting back the temptation…

@4: “BobB – Your point appears to be that an anecdote from Wakefield justifies the demonisation of an entire people. Or am I reading you wrong?”

It’s not an “anecdote”. Wakefield Council was describing its documented experience in a memorandum submitted to a HoC select committee.

The council was saying that on every occasion in 2003 when travellers settled without permission on local authority land in Wakefield, they were offered alternative accommodation on official sites developed for travellers and this offer was turned down.

The obvious question is whether it was therefore a waste of public money to develop sites specifically for travellers if the sites weren’t used and travellers insisted on occupying public land without authorisation instead. The council was therefore obliged in the circumstances to apply for possession orders through the courts at cost to the public finances while the travellers had the option of simply moving onto another site without permission whenever the court orders were enforced, thereby obliging the council to go through the whole futile procedure again and again. Those who know Wakefield will be familiar with the problem.

In my own locality in London, as the result of previous adverse experience from unauthorised encampments, private owners of unoccupied, vacant sites often go to substantial expense by installing heavy blocks of concrete along site boundaries to prevent unauthorised occupation.

It seems to me likely that the French have had a similar experience. From family motoring holidays in France a couple of decades back, many large towns there had acquired shack and caravan encampments at their peripheries.

From all that I read in the news, deporting the Roma has wide popular support in France. Constructive suggestions are likely to be more welcome in France than blanket condemnation by those who don’t have to endure the problem. As a French minister has suggested, Luxembourg is very welcome to offer alternative accommodation to the Roma.

7. Chaise Guevara

@4

“Pick up the local papers, you’ll read about plenty of examples of white Englishmen getting drunk and starting fights on Friday nights. Does that mean that *all* white Englishmen should be presumed to be violent drunkards? ”

This is how it works: if Bob doesn’t like you, and if Bob can find a news story about a person who looks like you breaking the law, then Bob has proved that you are evil and deserve no rights.

Basically, he’s a cross between a troll and Reuter’s news feed. Disregard.

Agreed up to a point: that point being that the EU itself doesn’t regard itself to be so bound.

I thought one of the points of the EU was to stop countries acting like complete and utter dicks. Oh well.

10. Chaise Guevara

France certainly isn’t a leading light on civil liberties and anti-racism at the moment.

“This is how it works: if Bob doesn’t like you, and if Bob can find a news story about a person who looks like you breaking the law, then Bob has proved that you are evil and deserve no rights.”

C’mon. Owners of hotels and camping sites in Spain are fully entitled to refuse bookings from British holidaymakers if the owners consider that course in their best interests.

In the case of Wakefield, the council didn’t have the option of refusing occupation of local authority land by settlers who had not sought permission in the first place. The council was therefore obliged to seek possession of the sites subject to unauthorised occupation through the courts at public expense. And the council was making the point that alternative accommodation was available on sites specifically provided for travellers. The legal rights of the unauthorised occupants of local authority sites in Wakefield were fully respected but that respect was not reciprocated.

Btw I didn’t just happen upon the news story – I’m familiar with the problem in Wakefield and also with the relating select committee proceedings.

Denial of the problem is easy and cheap for those who don’t have to deal with it. The government of Luxembourg is entirely free to offer alternative accommodation to the Roma. Let’s see if they do so.

cjcjc @2 – Pretty much agree with 4. The key point is that the French government is deeming *all* Roma to be criminals as a group, with no right to the presumption of innocence or to trial.

Bob @6 – So because you have evidence that *one* council had a bad experience with a group of Travellers (which may or may not be synonymous with Roma), plus a few bits of hearsay and anecdote, this means that the entire Roma people are beyond redemption, and we might as well give up?

Tim @8 – How so? Citation rather than mere assertion needed, I think…

Mr S Pill @9 – Sadly, though, France doesn’t seem to have got that memo.

France has every right to do as France pleases. Last time I checked, no one voted for Commissioner Viviane Reding.

Laws made by dictators are not laws

I am slightly concerned that recourse to the ‘rule of law’ here has one problem. Law, as understood in Europe, is the system of organisation primarily of property but also of social relations designed for an agrarian society. It assumes adherence to certain concepts of ownership, tresspass etc (these vary from place to place, but are commonplaces of European laws), and is accepted as obligatory on all members of society (with certain provisos for crime, social convention etc, generally understood by all members of the societies in question).

The Roma are a non-agrarian nomadic culture (the only others I can think of in Europe are the Irish travellers and the Lapps, the latter of whom occupy a primarily nomadic world), and therefore have different cultural norms (including, to the best of my knowledge, no tradition of either their own or other’s law in the normal sense – and tradition is not law before anyone points out customs). In an outbreak of cultural relativity, I cannot call these better or worse, but note that different is a key issue. The French, who have a particularly peculiar relationship with their law (it can be broken, but only in socially acceptable ways such as by unions or farmers protesting…) find it particularly difficult to cope with these norms at the moment for some reason.

I would not claim that what the French are doing is right or justifiable (although it is within the democraticly-elected government’s powers according to their constitution, which makes recourse to the EU constitution a bit of an ironic defence of the Roma through a non-democratic institution against a democratic one). I would suggest however this is the manifestation of a common problem in the world, where different cultures clash and the concept of law as understood by one or the other becomes more difficult to understand. Condemn the French actions by all means, but it would help if there was an attempt to provide a solution to the French problems at the same time. Obviously, I have no solution (otherwise I would be crowing about it), so I cannot really condemn.

S. Pill @9,

“I thought one of the points of the EU was to stop countries acting like complete and utter dicks. Oh well.”

I’ve had a quick look, and that is actually not included in any of the treaties. I was shocked – apparently countries may act as dickishly as they like (especially those with a tradition of ignoring EU rules they don’t like).

Do you think we could get an anti-dick ruling through under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, or would we need a new treaty to do so? 😉

France has every right to do as France pleases.

It does not have the legal right to do as it pleases.

Condemn the French actions by all means, but it would help if there was an attempt to provide a solution to the French problems at the same time.

It has been provided in this thread: follow due process. If a person is breaking the law, in terms of run-of-the-mill criminality or the act of illegally entering the country, execute the law; do not tar all people of his ethnicity with the same brush.

@4

France categorically does *not* have the right to declare an entire ethnic group to be illegal immigrants and criminals. Each individual has the right to be presumed innocent, and a right to a trial.

The French government has decided that these basic principles don’t apply in this case, and has unilaterally declared all Roma to be guilty, with no right of appeal or reply.

Suspect this is somewhat disingenuous.

Have you any evidence that any of the Roma being rounded up are in France legally? Any evidence that any of those detained have produced documents verifying their legal status and not been permitted to go about their business?

There is an entirely different argument about whether the French action is duly compassionate.

But it doesn’t help to muddy the waters.

UkLiberty

I repeat, laws made by the unelected are not laws. They are dictats. Other laws made by the unelected include not eating pork. Does that make me eating a bacon sandwich a criminal?

Laws are what you agree to when you consent to be governed. No one has consented to be governed by Brussels. End of story.

“France has every right to do as France pleases”

Zimababwe has every right to do as Zimbabwe pleases
Burma has every right to do as Burma pleases
Iraq has every right to do as Iraq pleases
Nazi Germany has every right to do as Nazi Germany pleases.

Knew a racist like yourself would hate the idea of legal constraints on the ability of states to violate human rights.

“I repeat, laws made by the unelected are not laws. They are dictats”

Like the bill of rights then.

As a “racist”, this Libertarian would prefer there to be NO borders on the entire planet. I find a passport an affront to human rights.

Carry on, always a pleasure to visit the inmates here occasionally

Old Holborn,

I repeat, laws made by the unelected are not laws. They are dictats. Other laws made by the unelected include not eating pork. Does that make me eating a bacon sandwich a criminal?

I don’t understand how this relates to anything in this thread.

No one has consented to be governed by Brussels. End of story.

France consented to be governed (to an extent) by the EU, as did all the other EU member countries.

I repeat, laws made by the unelected are not laws.

Brilliant. You realise that that means you’re rejecting English common law under that principle, but allowing through everything a “one man, one vote, once” Arab Islamist government passes?

Democracy is relevant only because it’s slightly less unpleasant than all the other solutions; it has no inherent worth. The rule of law, on the other hand, is what everything good in society was founded on. And in the vast majority of cultures the vast majority of the time, those laws weren’t based on plebiscites.

“this Libertarian”

So libertarianism is now about the right for states to do what they like?

26. Chaise Guevara

@11

You need to fast forward a bit to where this starts justifying the racist treatment of the Roma. The Wakefield thing has little or nothing to do with it.

ukliberty,

“It has been provided in this thread: follow due process. If a person is breaking the law, in terms of run-of-the-mill criminality or the act of illegally entering the country, execute the law; do not tar all people of his ethnicity with the same brush.”

Indeed. But that does not solve the problem the French people are apparently experiencing of having an alien culture imposing its norms on them regardless of law (e.g. the norms of the French people). There is an argument (I am being Devil’s advocate here) that there is a duty on the state to act in another of the functions that we probably both agree it has, the defence of its people and their way of life. If there is undisputable evidence that members of a group, who have been given opportunities to settle within the framework of the host country and not taken them, are liable to ignore the rule of law and the boundaries of society, and therefore adversely affect the way of life of the citizens of a country, is there not a case that the state has to take action.

To argue against this is also to argue that the state cannot act against an invading army because it consists of individuals whose unique motivation has to be established in each case to invade the country before we can shoot at them. Which seems illogical, but there we go. I am actually concerned by this analysis (as happens with my logic sometimes) because it implies that the state has the right to remove threatening groups with no concern for individual status, but it seems to be logically coherent. I suppose we could question whether a state can intervene to protect its citizens’ way of life, but then what would be the purpose of a state?

I would argue that to protect the borders and uphold the (in this case French) law is the only reason for the State to exist.

But then, I’ve had no Fabian training.

Watchman,

If there is undisputable evidence that members of a group, who have been given opportunities to settle within the framework of the host country and not taken them, are liable to ignore the rule of law and the boundaries of society, and therefore adversely affect the way of life of the citizens of a country, is there not a case that the state has to take action.

No-one is saying no action can be taken. What I and others are saying is that you take action against the individuals who are causing the problem. Prosecute the shoplifters, thieves, trespassers and murderers; expel the illegal immigrants.

Why is OK to say that, as Jack is a thief, his extended family and neighbours are undesirables?

To argue against this is also to argue that the state cannot act against an invading army because it consists of individuals whose unique motivation has to be established in each case to invade the country before we can shoot at them.

Serious logic fail.

ukliberty,

It is not that I know a logic fail – can you point out where the fail is, because I do not like that analysis very much (remember it was a devil’s advocate point – I actually believe in individual over group identity, so share your concerns). It is concerning me that my belief in individual responsibility and the rule of law seems to conflict with what I believe to be one of the key roles of the state.

I suppose what underlies my concern is the way that we are so keen to accord rights (protection under law effectively defines the word) to those who do not sign up to the responsibilities involved in living with a society with those rights. I am by no means trying to defend the French actions here, nor advocating the limitation of rights, but there is a problematic issue at play here. People cannot just take advantage of some aspects of society without paying back into it in some way (otherwise I assume all objections to tax evaders on this site are not serious…).

@13 / @14 The concept of the rule of law is rather more subtle than simply stating “you must obey the law”. It’s about fundamental rights and principles. The longer version of this post at my place explains it in rather more detail.

@18 The principle of innocent until proven guilty, enshrined by the UN, Council of Europe *and* EU means that it is incumbent on France to prove that the Roma are what the French government says they are, not the other way around.

This is made difficult in the case of the Roma because, as a migrant people persecuted and treated as undesirables in many European countries (not just France), not all of them possess the necessary documentation. This does not, however, mean that they can therefore be relegated to the status of non-people.

@28 The reason for any state to exist is to protect the people of that state. Protecting the borders is an offshoot of that duty. What France is doing here is deciding that certain people – who may well be French citizens for all we know (because due process isn’t being followed – are undeserving of that protection.

I thought you professed to be a libertarian? It’s an odd sort of libertarian who approves of the state persecution of individuals.

@31,

I see nothing there that suggests your concept of rule of law and mine actually differ very much. My concern is how it applies to those who do not accept the rule of law applies to them in the first place because they have a different set of social norms.

Perhaps it is necessary to establish each individual does reject the rule of law (which would avoid the major pitfall of ethnic discrimination that is going on here – finally, I have advanced my thinking on this a bit!), but what do you do with those who chose to ignore what is socially acceptable as defined by the rule of law?

Oh, and @19 – “No one has consented to be governed by Brussels” – erm… Except for the 1975 referendum, in which the British people explicitly endorsed membership of the EEC. (We’ll ignore, for now, an explanation of how representative democracy fits in.)

Your use of the term “governed” is, shall we say, somewhat a matter of opinion, though. The EU is not a government in the true sense of the word, nor does it govern (at least, not in the sense that word is normally used). It regulates and legislates, certainly. But governments do far more than this.

But based on your previous misunderstanding of the concept of the rule of law, and the meaning of the word “libertarian”, I’m not sure that attempting to explain any further is going to get us anywhere. I’m already worried that I’m sounding deeply patronising, but it’s a bit hard not to.

Nosemonkey,

“Oh, and @19 – “No one has consented to be governed by Brussels” – erm… Except for the 1975 referendum, in which the British people explicitly endorsed membership of the EEC. (We’ll ignore, for now, an explanation of how representative democracy fits in.)”

Well, since you’ve left yourself open for it, where in European Economic Community is the concept of Union from? I think you may find that vote was for something a little bit different than a European Arrest Warrent or even the European Bill of Rights. Perhaps thinking before putting your foot in it might help.

Also, I tend to assume that democracy requires the people to consent more than every 35 years – assuming you have a right to govern on the basis of an election that far previously is rather more characteristic of totalitarian regimes.

As to representative democracy, well it is there. But then there is the argument that if all British MEPs opposed something and it was still passed, should it be binding on Britain? Because, you see, no-one in Britain actually voted to allow the EEC to have rights to impose laws; they voted to join a trading block. And strangely, the majority of voters at the last European election voted for parties opposed to imposing laws on Britain from the EU. That is to say, there is no democratic mandate it British history for creating an EU to govern us, which surely means representative democracy is still therefore the British, not the European, electorate? You can surely do better than this!

Wakefield Council in West Yorkshire is not by any means the only council to have had recurring issues about unauthorised occupation of public land by travellers – who may or may not be Roma:

“Travellers who set up camp on a recreational area in Meanwood have been moved on following pressure from local residents and a city councillor.

“Residents living on Stonegate Road – opposite King Alfred’s recreational fields – were among the first to report the traveller encampment. They complained that the camp was stopping children playing on the fields during the summer holiday.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/leeds/2010/aug/10/blogpost

“The last remaining travellers living on an illegal site in the Basildon area have moved on after bailiffs began clearing the site.”
http://gatewayfm.com/news/2010/09/last-travellers-evicted-from-illegal-hovefields-drive-site/

“Bradford Council is seeking to evict travellers who have set up illegal camps near to Shipley and Baildon.”
http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/8348522.Council_is_seeking_to_evict_travellers/

Some contributors here are overlooking that others besides travellers also have rights.

I’m watching the news to see if the government of Luxembourg offers accommodation to all the Roma deported from France.

@32 Not sure I follow you.

I’m talking about the fundamental principles that underly western society – i.e. innocent until proven guilty, the right to trial, etc. – that all members of the EU have subscribed to. You appear to be talking about individuals who break specific laws.

I can’t see the confusion. If an individual refuses to accept the legitimacy of a law, and so breaks it, then they should be dealt with according to the law*.

France, however, is not following even this principle. It claims that the Roma it wishes to deport have broken the law, but so far refuses to prove that they have on a case-by-case basis. Therefore France is breaching French law, as well as international.

* Difficulties naturally arise here if the law concerned is unjust, the person breaking it deems it to be unjust, or the person concerned refuses to recognise the legitimacy of the law-maker.

That’s an entirely different kettle of fish, and – at least as far as I can tell – irrelevant here. (It’s also far, far too complex to attempt to explain in a blog comment box – hundreds of books have been written on the subject. It’s one of the basic problems of political philosophy, and has been for centuries. It’s also one of the problems that sparked the English Civil War and French and American Revolutions, as I note in the longer version of this post.)

@36,

Sorry, it was unclear. My concern is that the Roma represent an alternative social tradition, which does not have the same concept of law (I am not sure any nomadic people can have law in the same way as agricutural-based societies such as those from which we derive our laws). Therefore, to be Roma may be to refuse to abide by the rule of law (which applies to individuals also). This is not about committing a crime, but about someone electing whilst in a country to disregard the customs and social boundaries of that country in favour of an incompatible system. Why are the inhabitants of that country obliged to accept this?

watchman,

It is not that I know a logic fail – can you point out where the fail is, because I do not like that analysis very much (remember it was a devil’s advocate point – I actually believe in individual over group identity, so share your concerns).

OK. Assuming your invading army carries guns and drives AVs, not RVs, it’s clearly an imminent threat. It has long been held that nations (and people!) are entitled to defend themselves against imminent threats. You don’t appear to be thinking about the imminent threat bit.

@34 Have you read the Treaty of Rome? The phrase “ever-closer union” was a bit of a give-away, surely? If not, what about “steady expansion”? How about “reducing the differences existing between the various regions”?

Strongly implies something that’s going to evolve. If anyone had bothered to pay attention, many of the developments of the last 30-35 years had already been mooted by the time the UK joined.

You’re also deeply mistaken about the nature of British democracy if you think the consent of the people has *ever* had a place in it, let alone every 30 years. In Britain, sovereignty does not and never has rested with the people, as I note in the post linked above: http://www.jcm.org.uk/blog/2005/02/sovereignty/

I don’t agree that this should be the case. But it is. Sovereignty lies with the Crown in Parliament, not with the people. There is no binding requirement for the people to be consulted in British law. There should be – but the nature of the British (specifically English) constitution precludes the existence of such a law. Anyone who claims otherwise, I’m afraid, is merely showing their ignorance of the British constitution.

After all, when did any of us – or our grandparents’ grandparents’ grandparents, for that matter – ever have a referendum on establishing a monarchy? Or a House of Lords? Or any of the institutions of government?

@36 – sorry, commenting difficulties.

The inhabitants of France aren’t obliged to accept people of a different social/cultural background flaunting their laws. Nor should they have to. That’s why we have police forces and law courts.

However, the French state is ignoring the second of those – the courts. France isn’t obliged to put up with people breaking the laws of France, but *is* obliged to give those people who flaunt French laws a fair trial, based on the presumption of innocence, rather than labeling *all* people of a particular group as criminals based on the actions of *some* members of that group (combined with stereotypes and hearsay).

Watchman,

My concern is that the Roma represent an alternative social tradition, which does not have the same concept of law (I am not sure any nomadic people can have law in the same way as agricutural-based societies such as those from which we derive our laws). Therefore, to be Roma may be to refuse to abide by the rule of law (which applies to individuals also). This is not about committing a crime, but about someone electing whilst in a country to disregard the customs and social boundaries of that country in favour of an incompatible system. Why are the inhabitants of that country obliged to accept this?

They aren’t obliged to accept it – why do you say they are?

The authorities are entitled to prosecute people who break the law. It doesn’t matter what your cultural or ethnic background is. But if the person does not commit a crime the authorities shouldn’t treat him as they would a criminal. If his behaviour does not breach the law but the nation thinks it should, the nation is entitled (with certain caveats) to legislate in order to criminalise such behaviour (but not ex post facto).

Furthermore, the UK may exclude or deport a person on the grounds his presence is “non-conducive to the public good” but the person is entitled to a hearing to determine whether the decision is rational and lawful (I don’t know if France has a similar power). I doubt that it would be lawful to exclude someone simply because he is of a particular ethnicity.

@ Nosemonkey

This is made difficult in the case of the Roma because, as a migrant people persecuted and treated as undesirables in many European countries (not just France), not all of them possess the necessary documentation. This does not, however, mean that they can therefore be relegated to the status of non-people.

Of course not.

But if you recognise the legitimacy of the state (I don’t) they can be given the status of illegal immigrants and deported.

@15

I’d definitely advocate that, but I’m betting Cameron would exercise the UK opt-out 😉

@35 No one’s denying that people whose property is stolen or whose land is invaded have rights. All that’s being pointed out is that if an individual traveller/Roma commits a crime then they should have the right to a fair trial – and that just because *some* members of a particular group are criminal, we cannot presume the whole group to be criminal without breaching some of the fundamental principles on which modern western society has been built, along with international law.

If France gives each person they want to deport a fair trial, and each and every one of them is found guilty, then of course France has the right to deport them. Just as Wakefield council would, in my view, be fully justified in evicting trespassers if their trespass is proved. The point in the French case is that trespass has *not* been proved. The French government has merely determined that if you are Roma, you must be an illegal immigrant. If you are Roma, you are guilty until proven innocent.

As you like anecdote, a case in point. Some of my parents’ friends had some travellers set up camp in the field at the bottom of their garden a few years back. They complained to the police, assuming that the camp had been set up illegally. In fact, the travellers had bought the field. They had just as much right to be there as my parents’ friends.

This is the first step – don’t presume guilt.

The next step is what to do with a stateless, migrant people with a different social/cultural background who, nonetheless, have the same rights as the rest of us. This post was not even attempting to get into that vast and controversial topic. That’s one for later – and an *incredibly* difficult one at that…

@42 Where do you deport them to if you have no idea what their nationality is? And what’s to oblige the country you pick on to accept them, if you’ve got no proof of their nationality?

And, more to the point, if you had been born and raised in France – as many of these Roma may well have been (we don’t know, because France can’t be bothered to find out, or even to give them the chance to prove this), shouldn’t you have a right to live there? How would you feel if the government of the country where you have lived your entire life suddenly decided to deny your citizenship and deport you, with no right of appeal?

Again – are some of these people illegal immigrants? Quite probably. But where’s the proof?

@ 42

Though it would need to be shown that they are illegal immigrants before deporting them. The situation could be quite complex under EU law, but even if it wasn’t, the speed of the deportations makes clear that France hasn’t followed the proper legal procedures in applying the law.

———————————————————————————————————————-

As a general point, it may help to see the rule of law as the principle that states must comply with their own laws and procedures to ensure that there is no arbitrary exercise of power. If someone has committed a crime or is an illegal immigrant, then the legal procedures need to be followed.

[It’s more complex than that because it also involves an idea of rights (certain things that the state can never do). The rule of law is fundamental to the legitimacy of the actions of the state in a way that democracy isn’t, because democracy is simply a way of deciding how to use state power, so by definition the rule of law trumps it – because if, for example, the state can not torture, then no matter what the decision-making procedure (edict, parliamentary vote, referendum), the state is still prohibited from acting out it under the rule of law.]

You can be above the rule of law. You need 2 things:
1) Lots of money
2) Reversible dementia that only affects you while you are under threat of prison.

Sometimes the money alone can work.

If you’re a politician you can argue parliamentary privilege while crossing your fingers that your colleagues will be thinking, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Anyway, if we get this supranational law enforcer who’s going to prevent it from committing abuses? “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” as Juvenal said.

The best way for the law to be upheld is to have an involved, informed citizenry. This involves a free press, something that has been systematically eroded by plutocrats in Britain, particularly that bloody Aussie megalomaniac Murdoch.

Sorry, chaps – but the rule of law is not trumped by who has the most votes, just as it isn’t trumped by who has the most soldiers, or the biggest stick. Being voted into office doesn’t mean you can do what you like any more than being king means you can do what you like. We’ve progressed beyond that stage.

yes it does. thats the only reason we have your fucking human rights act… you someone got a majority in parliament. all law is is the will of who holds the biggest stick. Might is right. its called positivism, and its been the corner stone of UK law since the magna carta… so kindly shut up. It is no more logical to claim that there is some ethereal power known as the “rule of law” then it is to profess belief in god. A law is judged by the willingness of the state to enforce it. If a state doesn’t enforce it, it is nothing.

@48

What on earth has Magna Carta got to do with this?!

BTW you’d benefit from reading J.S Mill “On Liberty”…

So let me get this right

The unelected EU decided to hold a party at Frances’s house and printed invitiations which it then gave to all and sundry. Some rowdy guests turned up and broke a few vases, shat in the sink and raided the fridge and France decided to throw them out and called a taxi for them, paid the driver and sent them home again.

…..and France is the villain how exactly?

…..and France is the villain how exactly?

In the same way the Germans used conspiracy theories about the Jews, and trumped up charges of crime to slander and demonise an entire race.

@50

Nuh-huh. France has slandered an entire group of people guilty for the crimes of a few. It’s using a couple of shits in the sink to imply the main water supply has been pissed and vomited in (to use your metaphor).

I thought you libertarians were against states taking forceble action against people??

53. Chaise Guevara

“…..and France is the villain how exactly?”

Because it’s abusing the human rights of the Roma. Do keep up.

I notice no one has tackled the issue of the invititations….

Germany and others refused to allow free Eastern Bloc migration and still do. I missed your squawks about human rights then…

Shall I issue permits for the Labour conference to the BNP, Combat 18 or Respect and call you bigots when you turn “invited guests” away? I have as much right as the EU Commission to do so. Equality for all, human rights and all that…..

55. Chaise Guevara

“I notice no one has tackled the issue of the invititations….

Germany and others refused to allow free Eastern Bloc migration and still do. I missed your squawks about human rights then…

Shall I issue permits for the Labour conference to the BNP, Combat 18 or Respect and call you bigots when you turn “invited guests” away? I have as much right as the EU Commission to do so. Equality for all, human rights and all that…..”

OK, the problem with your ‘invitations’ thing is that you’ve allowed the metaphor to become the issue, which means you’re missing some fairly important points.

First off, the EU couldn’t offer the ‘invitations’ without the permission of France – if not at the time, then tacitally under previous treaties. So it’s not a case of randomly inviting someone to go somewhere when you have no right to do so.

Second, a private residence is not the same thing as a nation, and the analogy between the two only goes so far. If I kick someone out of my house because I happen to dislike their race, I’ll no doubt be criticised, but I ultimately have the right to do so. But a country – hell, even a shop – cannot do the same because we have laws to protect people from such discrimination.

Third, it seems that some of these Roma have lived in France all their lives; or, at least, the government is making no effort to demonstrate otherwise. So now you’re not kicking out uninvited guests, you’re throwing your brother out of the family home because he plays his music louder than you like.

“you’re throwing your brother out of the family home because he plays his music louder than you like.”

No, you are throwing out the univited lodger who lives rent free yet steals from you.

If the Roma have a reputation for theft, it’s up to them to dispel that “myth” whilst living uninvited in someone elses house. So far, they have failed.

To prove my “racism”, please post your full bank details, including PIN codes to henry.mugu@nigeria.com . He is completely trustworthy

Failure to do so will prove you to be no better than a Frenchman.

Old Holborn,

So let me get this right

The unelected EU decided to hold a party at Frances’s house and printed invitiations which it then gave to all and sundry. Some rowdy guests turned up and broke a few vases, shat in the sink and raided the fridge and France decided to throw them out and called a taxi for them, paid the driver and sent them home again.

…..and France is the villain how exactly?

AFAIK no-one disagrees with France’s right to throw out a foreigner (let’s call him John) who misbehaves. Why don’t you understand this?

The disagreement is over France throwing out John’s family, friends, and neighbours too, for no apparent reason other than they happen to be in the same community / ethnic group as John.

This brief on the Roma in Europe from the BBC website is more illuminating than most other news reports:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11332488

“French government spokesmen are also hinting that this row ‘will only widen the gap between the French people and the European institutions’.”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/gavinhewitt/2010/09/the_row_over_the_roma.html

As far as I can see, no one is throwing out John’s neighbours and friends. Just John and his family. Time Dad had a word with John methinks. I really don’t see how a state that welcomes millions of immigrants can be so vilified by the left.

Old Holborn, going by your comments here it seems you support collective punishment, the presumption of guilt, and bureaucrats punishing people without fair hearings and on the basis of their ethnicity.

Ahh Old Holborn, much like his tobacco namesake, leaving a foul stink everywhere (I speak as a smoker, Old Holborn is fucking horrible (the tobacco I mean (but if the cap fits..))).

But hey, let’s play: Old Holby, why oh why do you think it’s ok to slander an entire section of society purely for the crimes of a few? Is it cos they is Roma?

UKLiberty

As far as I know, no taxpaying, law abiding, French speaking integrated Roma have been put in a taxpayer funded taxi back home. Feel free to correct me.

Mr S Pill

Don’t take it so personally. I hate everyone

“Old Holborn, going by your comments here it seems you support collective punishment, the presumption of guilt, and bureaucrats punishing people without fair hearings and on the basis of their ethnicity.”

As best I can tell from news reports, that is not an accurate description of the situation in France.

What seems to have happened there is that the police were given instructions by the government to clear certain settler encampments by deporting the occupants back to their countries of origin – which was mainly Romania and Bulgaria.

Old Holborn, do you support fair hearings or not?

Bob B,

“Old Holborn, going by your comments here it seems you support collective punishment, the presumption of guilt, and bureaucrats punishing people without fair hearings and on the basis of their ethnicity.”

As best I can tell from news reports, that is not an accurate description of the situation in France.

What seems to have happened there is that the police were given instructions by the government to clear certain settler encampments by deporting the occupants back to their countries of origin – which was mainly Romania and Bulgaria.

Let me rephrase:

“Old Holborn, going by your comments here it seems you support collective punishment, the presumption of guilt, and police punishing people without fair hearings and on the basis of their ethnicity.”

Is that any better Bob?

@47 Who watches the watchmen? The other watchmen. That’s how it’s meant to work in a supranational system – because each watchman is acting in their own interests. Not security guards so much as a neighbourhood watch.

@48 No, the reason we have the Human Rights Act is because various human rights were agreed between sovereign governments at an international level, between the various member states of the Council of Europe, back in 1953. Labour then legislated for this at a UK level in the late 1990s due to a mistaken belief that it was necessary to be reaffirmed locally. It wasn’t. Please note: If you scrap the Human Rights Act, 80-90% of the rights contained within it will still stand as long as Britain remains a member of the Council of Europe. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Who will enforce those human rights? That’s the very question that’s being raised by this whole issue of the Roma. It’s been raised before by the actions of numerous members of the Council of Europe, and of the EU, when they’ve been in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, and international action has been slow.

That doesn’t, however, mean that those rights don’t exist. Anyone from any of the 47 members of the Council of Europe can appeal for their rights to be upheld, and the Council of Europe is obliged to act.

Is this perfect? No. But it is a massive, massive step up from a Brit only having the Law Lords (headed by a member of the government in the shape of the Lord Chancellor) as the final court of appeal.

Old Holborn @50 (and subsequent comments) On the invitations/party thing, your analogy would be more accurate if you said that the invitation was drawn up by the EU *and* France, and that France then signed and confirmed that invitation. On several occasions. And then, rather than merely ejecting the person who shat in the sink also ejected everyone who was in the same room at the time, without giving them the time to say their goodbyes or pick up their coats and bags.

The comment @54 pretty much covers the rest.

Oh, and if you missed my “Squawks about human rights” when it came to earlier restrictions of the free movement of people, then you evidently weren’t listening. I’ve been complaining about this for years.

This is largely because I belive in free markets. And you can’t have a free market without the free movement of people.

Your comment @56 shows that you really, *really* aren’t a libertarian. You don’t appear to even understand the meaning of the word. That presumption of guilt, the claim that it is up to individuals to prove their innocence in the face of state accusations, is the polar opposite of what libertarianism is all about. It is absolutely typical of fascism, not libertarianism.

@62 “As far as I know, no taxpaying, law abiding, French speaking integrated Roma have been put in a taxpayer funded taxi back home. Feel free to correct me.”

Due to the actions of the French government, the refusal to allow individual hearings, and the presumption of guilt, *no one knows* whether Roma who are French citizens have been deported or not.

That”s the whole fucking point.

I repeat, you vote for a state, you get a state and all that it entitles itself to do. Personally, I am not even registered to vote for that exact reason.

I repeat, I believe in a world without borders and the complete freedom of movement by anyone.

To argue whether an unelected EU commission is right to criticise the actions of a “State” because it refuses to abide by their dictats issued by itself is laughable.

I hope the unelected EU commission sends tanks to Paris to correct this anomoly in the same way the unelected Soviets sent tanks to Prague.

Carry on Comrades, it’s been fun

I repeat, you vote for a state, you get a state and all that it entitles itself to do. Personally, I am not even registered to vote for that exact reason.

But you stood for election didn’t you? Honestly, I don’t many people more hypocritical than you. And aren’t you libertarians crying about the state’s ‘violence’ in collecting taxes? But it’s ok if that violence is actually directed at minorities. Just don’t take my taxes guv!

70. Just Visiting

So taking the Wakefield analogy – are we saying that ‘rule of law’ means that France should have changed the law – and explicitly made the punishment for repeated squatting by those without French nationality – expulsion?

Their failure was they didn’t chnage the law first?

@65: “Is that any better Bob?”

No. By news reports, the focus for police action in France were the occupants of particular encampment sites who were (presumably) not French citizens. It happened that the occupants of these (? unauthorised) encampments were (mostly) Roma who had migrated to France mainly from Romania and Bulgaria, probably motivated by the prospect of better opportunities to earn income by one means or another.

Those who have enjoyed motoring and camping holidays in France will doubtless be familiar with sights of shack and caravan encampments on the outskirts of many large towns.

Besides the brief from the BBC website cited @58, recent issues of The Economist – for 2, 9 and 16 September – carry extensive news coverage.There seems to be a consensus that the predicament of the Roma is largely attributable to poor education opportunities for their children, partly or mainly as a consequence of their lifestyle.

I earlier posted links to show that similar situations but relating to groups often called “travellers” could be found in Britain too. I first became aware of the issues back in the 1970s (really) and many local authorities in Britain then and since have been confronted by the problems associated with unauthorised occupation of vacant sites by encampments and the costs to the public purse of obtaining site possession orders from the courts.

The tone of the memorandum from Wakefield council, submitted to a HoC select committee as referenced @3, yields some insights into the scale and frequency of the problem. No one should be misled into believing that the issues are confined to Wakefield.

72. Just Visiting

Like the UAE – where only 10% of those living there are UAE nationals – and you can have your visa removed and be chucked out for things like – losing your job…

73. Just Visiting

doh – I meant ‘unlike’ not ‘like the UAE’

If this is one more step towards the collapse of the EU then it is a good thing, I am just surprised the frogs didn’t stick them on the ferry at Dover.

@68 But *this* French government recently ratified the Lisbon Treaty, which reaffirmed and strengthened these very principles. The current French president fought for election in a campaign in which the support for and maintenance of human rights were explicitly stated as one of his two key foreign policy objectives. (See, for example: http://allafrica.com/stories/201005310762.html or http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,483230,00.html)

So *this* French government, as well as having ratified and reconfirmed the “EU diktats” within the last year (Lisbon having entered into force on 1st December 2009) was also elected on an explicit human rights ticket.

In other words, even based on your own criteria, the current French government is in breach of its electoral promises, and has lost its democratic mandate.

@69 – No. The rule of law is not about individual laws, it’s about fundamentals. That no one is above the law – not even elected governments who *change* the law.

Confusing, I know. The original, longer version of this post makes it clearer by providing more historical context.

However, you are in a sense correct – the French authorities are not even following French *national* law by refusing these people the right to the presumption of innocence and the right to trial.

@70 The bits in brackets in your first paragraph – the “presumably” the “? unauthorised” are precisely the problem. *If* they are not French citizens, and *if* the encampments are illegal, then France has perfectly legitimate, perfectly legal ways to remove them. Legal under both French *and* international law. But the French authorities decided that this would be too much trouble.

77. Arthur Seaton

What I find most pathetic in this scenario is Sarkozy and co being “astonished”, “hurt”, “appalled at the language” etc.

So, you want to round up an ethnic group and kick them out of the country…..OK. Whatever floats your boat mister. I’m sure there’s plenty of votes in that, and that uou get suitably turned on at night.

But don’t start acting like a virgin with the vapours when people start calling it for what it is.

78. DorsetRambler

Well, having endured the annual invasion of robbing pikey bastards to our beautiful county, I have to say that France, once again, has got it spot on.

It has to be one thing or the other, can’t have it both ways.

Old Holborn France has every right to do as France pleases

Old Holborn this Libertarian would prefer there to be NO borders on the entire planet. I find a passport an affront to human rights.

Can’t have it both ways, mate ( though it’s not an easy circle to square).

If it helps, your second point is the more important.

Borders legitimise the power of the state. No borders and free movement of people is the correct stance- for example free movement of the Roma into France.

@75: “@70 The bits in brackets in your first paragraph – the “presumably” the “? unauthorised” are precisely the problem. *If* they are not French citizens, and *if* the encampments are illegal, then France has perfectly legitimate, perfectly legal ways to remove them. Legal under both French *and* international law. But the French authorities decided that this would be too much trouble.”

The “ifs” in my post are because I have no direct knowledge of the current situation in France and have to rely on news reports. That said, as best I can tell from news reports, the intention motivating French government instructions to the police was to close down particular encampments, not the deportation or genocide of ethnic Roma. It happened that the encampments in question were mostly occupied by Roma who originally came from Romania or Bulgaria.

My point in referencing Wakefield and other councils in Britain – often Labour controlled councils, it can be said – is that comparable situations have existed in Britain in past decades so we cannot claim the moral highground in order to preach to the French about ethnic cleansing.

Along one of the main trunk routes out of London about a mile from where I sit, the boundaries of a site of a large, vacant superstore are secured both by substantial concrete blocks, which would take a crane to move, and by girder bollards concreted into the ground. The only rational explanation for the cost of this fortification is to prevent unauthorised occupation of the site by travellers – which did happen before the protective measures were taken.

I suspect most here railing against the French have little knowledge about the scale of administrative and legal costs incurred by some councils in Britain to prevent continued occupation of unauthorised encampments.

@6 Bob B: “In my own locality in London, as the result of previous adverse experience from unauthorised encampments, private owners of unoccupied, vacant sites often go to substantial expense by installing heavy blocks of concrete along site boundaries to prevent unauthorised occupation.”

A minor technical quibble.

Four beefy people with crow bars can lift a two ton concrete block onto a raft or sledge in a couple of minutes. Once the block is on a raft or sledge it can be shifted by hand across smooth ground or by a tow vehicle across the rough stuff. This is not theory; it is how heavy stuff gets moved around in factories every day.

Installation of concrete blocks is not necessarily a physical impediment to occupying a site. It is a pretty good signal, however, that the land owner is serious about defending property rights. Those who considert occupying the site thus observe the signal and look for a softer target.

News update, Thursday night:

“In all, Mr Sarkozy said around 500 camps were dismantled in August, of which 199 were Roma settlements.

“About 5,400 people were evicted from the Roma camps, but the majority of those living in the camps were French nationals, the president said.”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11338112

@79 “It happened that the encampments in question were mostly occupied by Roma who originally came from Romania or Bulgaria”

No, it happens that the encampments in question are mostly occupied by Roma who the French government *says* originally came from Romania or Bulgaria, based on zero evidence, while affording them no opportunity to defend themselves, nor even to prove their innocence of the crimes they are accused of having commited.

Once again – and I don’t know how I can be more explicit – if crimes have been committed, they should be tried and guilty parties punished appropriately (including, potentially by deportation).

But your willingness to write off an entire ethnic group because it’s cheaper than working out which ones are guilty and which ones are innocent (as implied by your “administrative and legal costs” comment) is a very, very dangerous path to step on. It leads direct to the gas chambers. (After all, killing them’s cheaper than deporting them, isn’t it?)

Two genuine questions that I can’t be arsed googling for:

1) Are there French elections soon(ish)?
2) Are le Pen and the fascists standing once again?

Might be the reasons behind the current French xenophobia … p’haps.

Course, Sarkozy could just be a complete errrr “chump”, to use the Mandelson version of that word.

Oh & I gotta say that speech by Viviane Reding was freakin awesome.

@79 Bob B:

Just around the corner from me on Disraeli Street, there used to be a company with the delightful Dickensian name of Spiers and Throop. In the days when engineering workshops and factories didn’t have overhead cranes, you could call up Spiers and Throop who would use human muscle and ingenuity to shift awkward and heavy lumps of machinery. Moving a free concrete block a few yards would have been no problem to them, which is presumably why the land owners in your example embedded them.

But erecting barriers is just signalling. Even the Berlin Wall was not impervious.

87. Chaise Guevara

@Old Holburn

“No, you are throwing out the univited lodger who lives rent free yet steals from you.”

Uninvited? So being born makes you uninvited? Hard to see how that applies to the France-born Roma more than it does anyone else, to be honest.

“If the Roma have a reputation for theft, it’s up to them to dispel that “myth” whilst living uninvited in someone elses house. So far, they have failed.”

Hah, yes, because if someone who looks like me does something bad, it’s up to me to make up for it. Yes, that makes sense, assuming all Roma are actually part of some symbiotic fucking hive mind. Well done.

“To prove my “racism”, please post your full bank details, including PIN codes to henry.mugu@nigeria.com . He is completely trustworthy

Failure to do so will prove you to be no better than a Frenchman.”

I don’t actually remember calling you racist, probably because you didn’t reveal how racist you are until the post I’m now replying to. But yes, to prove I’m not racist I should forward my bank details and PIN number (N.B.: you should probably do a bit of research on how banking works) to random strangers to prove I don’t hate non-whites. However, you need to demonstrate your faith in humanity too; why not post your bank details on this very thread?

88. Chaise Guevara

” Old Holby, why oh why do you think it’s ok to slander an entire section of society purely for the crimes of a few?”

Because he’s a libertarian. Durr! It’s part of the libertarian code:

1) Let people do what they want.

2) Swing that fist!

3) States are inevitably corrupted and should not be allowed undue power over the rights of the individual.

4) All Roma are bastards.

89. Chaise Guevara

“But you stood for election didn’t you?”

Did he? That must have been fucking priceless. Was he standing for the Selfishness and Racism League? Please tell me you have videos.

“If the Roma have a reputation for theft, it’s up to them to dispel that “myth” whilst living uninvited in someone elses house. So far, they have failed.”

And if the Jews have a reputation for being money grabbing misers, it’s up to them to dispel that myth whilst living uninvited in someone elses house.

This is far too easy.

Bob B,

No. By news reports, the focus for police action in France were the occupants of particular encampment sites who were (presumably) not French citizens. It happened that the occupants of these (? unauthorised) encampments were (mostly) Roma who had migrated to France mainly from Romania and Bulgaria, probably motivated by the prospect of better opportunities to earn income by one means or another.

Reding’s allegations, linked to and discussed by the OP, are as follows:

I am personally convinced that the Commission will have no choice but to initiate infringement action against France:

Infringement proceedings against France for a discriminatory application of the Free Movement Directive. [that’s the bit about discriminating by ethnicity]

And infringement proceedings against France for lack of transposition of the procedural and substantive guarantees under the Free Movement Directive. [that’s the bit about failing due process]

I anticipate more comments about Wakefield that fail to address these allegations.

Luckily, I have just received this press release from the EU

Press release – 670(2010)

Council of Europe initiative on Roma supported by French Government

Strasbourg, 17.09.2010 – Council of Europe Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland, in a meeting today with French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Pierre Lellouche, got full support for his initiative for action at the European level on issues related to the rights and obligations of Roma communities in Europe.

Jagland presented a catalogue of obligations to address what he described as “a complex pan-European issue that now needs concrete action”. The Secretary General proposes joint action between European Union, Council of Europe and their member states. “Together we have both the expertise and the resources, and the Council of Europe has the monitoring mechanisms that can ensure that obligations are respected” he said. French Secretary of State Lellouche expressed his full support for the Secretary General’s initiative.

The starting point for action will be Jagland’s initiative to hold a High Level Meeting on applicable Council of Europe and EU standards, which will also get the Council of Europe, the European Union and national governments working together. “It’s time now to move from words to action” Jagland said.

I have absolutely no idea what it means. anybody?

That’s perfectly clear, surely?

The Council of Europe, in conjunction with the EU and the member states of both, is finally going to start trying to work out just where the Roma fit in to European society (both their rights and their obligations, please note), and securing agreement from all member states to respect what’s agreed.

No wonder you appear to be so confused about things. If you find that difficult, you won’t have a hope in hell of decoding international law.

The Council of Europe, in conjunction with the EU and the member states of both, is finally going to start trying to work out just where the Roma fit in to European society

And you wonder why I’m a Libertarian? By what right do the above get to decide where the Roma fit into anything?

Erm… Because the governments of the member states have all been elected and therefore have a direct mandate from the people of their states to negotiate these things on their behalf.

The Council of Europe and the EU, meanwhile, are just tools for these elected governments to align policy in the interests of their electorates – tools which have been set up by, run by, and their authorities confirmed by these elected governments for decades.

That’s by what right, dear. It’s called representative democracy – you seemed to approve of it a few comments back.

ukliberty @91:

EU Commissioner Reding is looking increasingly silly for her hysterical comments likening the French government to the Nazis.

The recent news from France has cleared up that the police were instructed – as I suspected – to close down 500 unauthorised encampments with some 5,000 occupants. Of the 500 encampments, 199 were Roma settlements. The majority of the occupants of the 500 encampments were French nationals, about 1000 were not. Of those, about 900, who are ethnic Roma, have been deported back to Romania or Bulgaria.

Overall, that can hardly be construed as ethnic purging since the principal objective was to close down unauthorised encampments where the great majority of the occupants were, in fact, French nationals.

According to a report on the BBC World At One, a recent public opinion poll in France found 65% of the respondents expressing approval for the actions of the French government.

There are many similarities with the repeating experiences of Wakefield and other councils in Britain in closing down unauthorised encampments here, the occupants of which are generally referred to as “travellers”. They may or may not be ethnic Roma. Few, if any, of the officials engaged in the process of seeking court orders have any interest in determining the precise ethnicity of the occupants of the unauthorised encampments. The policy objective is to ensure the closure of the encampments as soon as is feasible – district councils are under a statutory obligation to provide permanent camping sites for travellers: see this HoC Library brief on the legalities:
http://www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/commons/lib/research/briefings/snsc-01127.pdf

The ethnicity of the occupants of the encampments may be of interest to sociologists, social engineers and social workers but that is another matter.

@96 – Once again, I think you’ll find you’re mistaken. Try to arm yourself with *all* the facts: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/8000119/French-interior-ministry-ordered-police-to-single-out-Roma-memo-shows.html

Please note: “Three hundred camps or illegal settlements must be dismantled within three months, prioritising those of the Roma.”

In other words, an ethnic group was *specifically* being targeted, as part of a wider campaign.

Again, *no one* is denying France’s right to dismantle illegal camps, charge people suspected of crimes, or deport illegal immigrants.

The problem is specifically with the blanket targeting of an ethnic group, with this memo explicitly showing that that the Roma were to be targeted as a top priority. Which is targeting an ethnic group for punishment, without trial. Which is illegal under both Franch *and* international law. And which is *exactly* what the Nazis did.

Oh go on then, I’ll make your day

“The ethnic group of the Roma are proportionally more criminal than the ethnic group of Inuits. Discuss”

After we’ve done that, can we do Nigerians?

@98 [citation needed]

Bob B,

Overall, that can hardly be construed as ethnic purging since the principal objective was to close down unauthorised encampments where the great majority of the occupants were, in fact, French nationals.

Given that Reding has acquired a memo that says, “… en priorité ceux des Roms”, or in English, “the priority is the Roma”, I’d say it seems you’re wrong.

“Given that Reding has acquired a memo that says, ‘… en priorité ceux des Roms’, or in English, ‘the priority is the Roma’, I’d say it seems you’re wrong.”

On events in France, I’m dependent on what I read in the news. It’s of moment to know where that memo came from, with what authority, the context and to whom the memo was sent.

Without that information, there is little we can conclude here. By accounts in the news, the majority of the occupants of the unauthorised encampments were French nationals, not Roma who were citizens of other EU countries. Some 5,000 occupants were evicted from unauthorised encampments of whom some 900 Roma were deported back to Romania or Bulgaria. By implication, the remaining 4,000 or so stayed in France, presumably looking for alternative camp sites on which to set up residence.

I’m still looking for news reports about whether the government of Luxembourg is offering alternative accommodation to the Roma.

Bob B,

It’s of moment to know where that memo came from, with what authority, the context and to whom the memo was sent.

Try reading the OP – it’s at the top of this page – and the articles it links to. That’s how I know about the memo.

@101 So because you are ignorant about something, you refuse to believe other people who know more than you, even when they provide you with the evidence so that you can become more knowledgeable?

OK. Glad we got that sorted.

For future reference, it would have taken you far less time to follow the links provided both in the original piece and in previous replies to your comments than it has to write all your comments above, which are all based – as you seem happy to admit – upon a complete lack of knowledge or understanding of the situation.

@97: “And which is *exactly* what the Nazis did.”

In France during WW2, the Nazis – or French sympathisers – rounded up jews regardless of nationality and packed them off to concentration camps or took them as cargo on long journeys in covered lorries where the vehicle exhaust fumes were piped back into the passenger compartments.

Saying that is similar to deporting Roma occupants of unauthorised encampments, who were not French nationals, back to their countries of origin is hysterical nonsense.

@104 The Nazis rounded up the Jews *because they were Jews* and denied their German nationality, as well as their right to own property in Germany, before forcibly removing them to another place.

France has been rounding up the Roma *because they are Roma* and denying them the chance to prove either their French nationality or their right to occupy their camps, before forcibly removing them to another place.

They may not have French nationality. They may not have the right to occupy those camps. France – like the Nazis – is denying them even the opportunity to present evidence to the contrary.

It doesn’t matter what the other place is, be it a death camp or Bulgaria, it’s still a perfectly valid comparison.

But I forgot, you only listen to evidence that suits your argument.

“For future reference, it would have taken you far less time to follow the links provided both in the original piece and in previous replies to your comments than it has to write all your comments above, which are all based – as you seem happy to admit – upon a complete lack of knowledge or understanding of the situation.”

That’s pompous as well as silly since we are all dependent on what combination of news stories we access. By the accounts in the news, the numbers of Roma deported back to their countries of origin amounted to some 900 ompared with the 5,000 or so occupants of unauthorised encampments.

I’m still looking for news about an offer from the government of Luxembourg to offer alternative accommodation to the Roma but have found nothing.

It remains curious as to why contributors here are so unwilling to focus on the continuing comparable experience of local councils in Britain in closing down unauthorised encampments, a recurring problem which has been going on at least since the 1970s, when I first became aware of it.

@106 “we are all dependent on what combination of news stories we access” – Which is why we provide references to what we’re talking about so that we don’t get confused in discussions. Which is exactly what I did both in the original piece and in subsequent discussions.

Nothin popmous or silly about that. Especially as you explicitly stated @79 that “I have no direct knowledge of the current situation in France” – that’s why I’ve been providing you with links. To aid you in your quest for knowledge about precisely that situation, and so that you can put the comments of others in this thread into some kind of context.

Can’t speak for anyone else, but the reason that I’m “unwilling to focus on the continuing comparable experience of local councils in Britain” is because so far I’ve seen no evidence that any council in Britain has unilaterally decided to declare the entire Roma people to be criminals.

In other words, because it’s irrelevant. We’re talking about France and the concept of the rule of law, not Wakefield.

Bob,

“For future reference, it would have taken you far less time to follow the links provided both in the original piece and in previous replies to your comments than it has to write all your comments above, which are all based – as you seem happy to admit – upon a complete lack of knowledge or understanding of the situation.”

That’s pompous as well as silly since we are all dependent on what combination of news stories we access.

Jesus.

The OP wrote, “… The Economist’s new Charlemagne has the best overview of the background to the current crisis over France’s explusion of the Roma…”

That link is to an Economist article:

… First, events have spurred the commission into action. The French government had argued that the evictions were simply a matter of public order, and of preventing illegal migration; there was no question, Paris said, of targeting a particular ethnic group. The assurance was repeated at a meeting in Brussels on August 31st between French ministers, including Mr Lellouche, and European commissioners.

But on September 9th a French website, “Le Canard Social”, published leaked instructions [an article] from the French interior ministry telling prefects to evacuate 300 illegal camps within three months, with the Roma camps as “a priority [the memo]”. This was, said commission officials, the “smoking gun” that the French government had been less than candid. …

Do you know how I know this? I read the OP and clicked through the links! Amazing isn’t it?

Now let me hold your hand and guide you through a couple of bits in the memo, with my emphasis in bold:

Le Président de la République a fixé des objectifs précis, le 28 julliet dernier, pour l’évacuation des campements illicites: 300 campements ou implantations illicites devront avoir été évacués d’ici mois, en priorité ceux des Roms.

In short, evacuate the illegal camps, prioritising the Roma.

Il revient donc, dans chaque département, aux préfets d’engager, sur la base de l’état de situation des 21 et 23 juillet, une démarche systématique de démentèlement des camps illicites, en priorité ceux de Rom.

In short, dismantle the illegal camps, prioritising the Roma.

Do you see the theme?

And please keep an eye on your Breidbart Index.

@107: “Can’t speak for anyone else, but the reason that I’m “unwilling to focus on the continuing comparable experience of local councils in Britain” is because so far I’ve seen no evidence that any council in Britain has unilaterally decided to declare the entire Roma people to be criminals.”

As explained @96, from the perspective of local councils in Britain, what matters is to secure early closure of unauthorised encampments. The precise ethnicity of the occupants is of little moment to the officials concerned, however interesting it may be to sociologists, social engineers and social workers. The occupants of such encampments tend to be referred to as travellers, a generic term covering a spread of possible ethnicities.

In my experience, local crime waves are often associated with unauthorised encampments in neighbourhoods in public perceptions and this tends to be a factor motivating concurrent surges in complaints to councils. The public language in Britain may be more nuanced, but public experience is that unauthorised encampments tend to be associated with increases in local crime rates.

This same connection is reportedly one of the public issues in France but the perspective there seems to be not only to secure early closure of such encampments to reduce crime but also to reduce migrant dependency on state welfare benefits – which tend to be more generous in France than in Britain.

I’m still looking for news about an offer of alternative accommodation for the Roma from the Luxembourg government.

Bob, for the billionth time, no commenter here says it’s wrong to close illegal encampments.

111. C H Ingoldby

France has absolutely every right to decide who visits and lives in their country. That is pretty much the definition of a country.

The foreign gypsies have abused the hospitality of the French and so have been expelled. That is thoroughly sensible of the French and it is their absolute moral, ethical and legal right to do so.

Good for the French.

@Bob B There’s no reason for Luxembourg to offer them accommodation, just as there’s no reason for France to.

No one’s saying that *any* country should be obliged to offer accomodation – just that every country within the EU/Council of Europe *is* obliged to give them the right to a fair trial, and not judge their innocence or guilt based purely on race.

(As an aside, Reding was speaking in her capacity as European Commissioner, not as a representative of Luxembourg, so the suggestion that Luxembourg must bear any responsibility for her words or actions is populist nonsense, based on a (deliberate) misrepresentation of how the Commission works.)

@111 You have misunderstood both what this post is complaining about *and* the situation in France. I can’t be bothered to start all over – but it helps if you read more than the headline (which I didn’t write, by the way) before commenting.

113. C H Ingoldby

Nosemonkey, i have read the article carefully and i stand by my comments.

I note that you were unable to refute them, instead relying on a weak ad hominen attack.

I reiterate, the French have the absolute right, legal, moral and ethical to expel anyone they want from their territory. I hope that sentence isn’t too complicated for you to understand.

@113 Nothing ad hominem about it. I’ve already covered *everything* in your comment in numerous comments above.

“Bob, for the billionth time, no commenter here says it’s wrong to close illegal encampments”

The obvious question is about what then happens to the evicted occupants of unauthorised encampments.

This was why Wakefield council in its select committee memorandum linked @3 emphasised that alternative accommodation on official campsites was offered to the occupants of unauthorised encampments who turned down the offer in every case during 2003.

What’s so sad about this thread is to observe the eager participation in a simplistic blame game without any willingness to recognise that there is a continuing long-standing problem – which is very familiar to some councils in Britain – or to engage in constructive discussion of solutions whether in France or in Britain.

The problem first impinged on my consciousness when I was a member of a council committee in the early 1970s discussing an agenda item for spending to meet the council’s statutory duty to provide a permanent campsite for travellers.

What struck me at the time was the extraordinary high costs of the project in which, as I recall, the average cost of each hardstanding for a caravan on the site was about equivalent to the average cost at the time of a semi-detached house.

The implication was that it would have been about as costly for the council to have built a council house for a travelling family, an option that was arguably superior on social grounds because that would have enabled the children of the family to regularly attend a local school – poor educational attainment is widely recognised to be a major reason why members of travelling communities become trapped in their lifestyle through successive generations.

But no, it’s so much more engaging to just lambast the French government for deporting some 900 Roma occupying unauthorised encampments back to their countries of origin.

C H Ingoldby,

I reiterate, the French have the absolute right, legal, moral and ethical to expel anyone they want from their territory.

They don’t have the absolute legal right to expel anyone they want from their territory.

Bob @115 “the eager participation in a simplistic blame game without any willingness to recognise that there is a continuing long-standing problem”

Which thread have you been reading? I touched on this in my comments @31, @40, @44, @82, and @93.

No one denies that there is a problem with the Roma – of course there is. They are a migrant, stateless people.

The point is that just because they are a migrant, stateless people doesn’t mean that they are not covered by existing laws.

And you’re *still* refering to countries of origin. For the last time, France couldn’t be arsed to determine what their country of origin was – that’s the whole point. France went “you’re Roma – you must be from Bulgaria/Romania” without even investigating. This is *exactly* the same as going up to a black person and saying “you’re black, you must be from Nigeria” (to follow Old Holborn’s delightful examples above).

The Roma come from *all over* Europe. They don’t – as a group – *have* a country of origin. Unless, that is, you trace their roots back so far that using the same logic would make most English people either Danish or German – possibly even African.

Bob B,

What’s so sad about this thread is to observe the eager participation in a simplistic blame game without any willingness to recognise that there is a continuing long-standing problem – which is very familiar to some councils in Britain – or to engage in constructive discussion of solutions whether in France or in Britain.

On the contrary, too much of this thread has been consumed by correcting the misapprehension of commenters such as yourself who (1) have reached a conclusion without bothering to properly read the OP and the items to which it links and (2) think that criticism of something (France’s apparent failure to abide by its obligations) necessarily entails support for some other thing (illegal camps and illegal immigration).

“On the contrary, too much of this thread has been consumed by correcting the misapprehension of commenters such as yourself who (1) have reached a conclusion without bothering to properly read the OP and the items to which it links and (2) think that criticism of something (France’s apparent failure to abide by its obligations) necessarily entails support for some other thing (illegal camps and illegal immigration).”

IMO that’s just more superficial stuff on your part because you have absolutely no insights at all into this long-standing problem – and not just in France – or what motivated the French government to do what it did with majority popular support according to the polls there.

It’s Sufficient that of the 5,000 occupants of unauthorised encampments in France, the authorities deported 900 Roma back to their countries of origin. End of issue. Let’s all feel good about lambasting the French government because some possibly low-level bureaucrat carelessly drafted a line in a memorandum.

In Britain, from long-experience, bureaucrats use more nuanced language on this issue and refer to travellers and travelling communities instead of Roma, thereby avoiding potentially embarrassing ethnic issues should a confidential memo leak.

No one in the thread has the sense to reflect on why the Wakefield council in West Yorkshire kept offering alternative sites to those occupying unauthorised encampments through 2003 only to be turned down every time – see link @3.

But why was the council’s offer of alternative sites repeatedly rejected? Could it be that the travelling communities settled on unauthorised encampments were (understandably) worried that official local authority sites would be serviced and monitored thereby seriously curtailing opportunities for criminal business?

Barnsley town is just 10 miles due south of Wakefield, while Leeds is about 12 miles to the north. In 2008, Meredydd Hughes, the chief constable of South Yorkshire popped up and said: Two out of every five UK metal thefts take place within a 15-mile radius of Barnsley:
http://www.thestar.co.uk/business/Barnsley-capital-of-metal-theft.3908056.jp

Metal theft opportunities are so widespread in those parts that it is difficult to police and prevent.

@Bob B – Your Wakefield examples and your repeated insistence that they are relevant to something that is currently happening in France prove nothing more than that you are deeply prejudiced against the Roma.

Your prejuidces only add to this discussion by further demonstrating that the Roma’s position within European society is that of an underclass, accorded fewer rights than the rest of us.

In other words, your repeated insistance that it’s perfectly acceptable to be prejudiced against the Roma only goes to prove the point of those of us who say that such prejudices are unnacceptable.

But this is not because we’re denying that any Roma have ever committed any crimes, nor because we’re apologists for property invasion or illegal immigration.

The only reason you can’t see that is because you’re blinded by prejudice.

“@Bob B – Your Wakefield examples and your repeated insistence that they are relevant to something that is currently happening in France prove nothing more than that you are deeply prejudiced against the Roma.”

Untrue. Those familiar with the very real-world problems associated with travellers than you evidently are already know that these communities have multiple ethnic roots – I can name a few but will be instantly accused of prejudice. In many cases of travelling communities in Britain, Roma don’t even comprise the majority.

Try speaking with members and officials from local councils which, for DECADES, have had to deal with an unending succession of unauthorised encampments, often associated with local crime waves and public nuisance from littering and property damage and you will likely begin to appreciate their exasperation. Councillors understandably object to the associated continuing waste of public spending.

As we can learn from the Wakefield case, officials suggest alternative sites as an unauthorised encampment starts up and then begin court proceedings. The campers usually take their time until enforcement is likely to begin before moving off to another unauthorised camp site where the same – or a neighbouring – council has to begin all over. And this goes on year after year.

Why do you suppose the site owners of a vacant superstore, fronted by a large car parking space, along a major trunk route out of London about a mile from where I live, have gone to the expense of fortifying the boundaries with blocks of concrete, which take a crane to move, as well as girder bollards concreted into the ground? Could this possibly be because the site became an encampment before the fortifications were installed?

Those so free here with their accusations of prejudice plainly have no experience or knowledge whatsoever of the scale of social problems and wasteful public spending associated with unauthorised encampments by so-called “travellers”.

@121 But WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT BRITAIN. The nature of Britain’s travelling community is *entirely* irrelevant.

We’re talking about France, where the French state explicitly announced that the Roma should be targeted above other Travellers.

Again, no one denies that there are problems with illegal camps, trespassing, or communities of squatters. The point is that a particular ethnic group – some of whom may or may not have broken *some* laws – is being targeted without the right to trial.

Not Travellers in the broad sense – specifically an ethnic subset of that group.

Seriously, have you read *any* of the comments above? Or are you just a troll?

@122: ” But WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT BRITAIN. The nature of Britain’s travelling community is *entirely* irrelevant.”

But I’m saying the comparison with Britain is ENTIRELY RELEVANT because other EU countries, besides France, have had, often long, prior experience with the scale of social problems and the associated public spending costs connected with unauthorised encampments by so-called travelling communities.

These communities may, or may not, be majority ethnic Roma. Ethnicity is not the significant issue here – the scale of social problems associated with unauthorised encampments by internal EU migrants is.

The French government is making sense when it says there is a need for the EU to collectively recognise the issue of unauthorised encampments resulting from internal EU migration. By news reports, the majority of the occupiers of the unauthorised encampments in France were, in fact, French nationals who could not be deported.

@123 And I’m saying that if you’re saying that the situation in Britain is relevant, that makes you a prejudiced – because you are attributing the same characteristics to a group of people in Britain as those in France – based purely on them belonging to a similar ethnic/cultural group.

You, of course, will claim that it’s nothing to do with ethnicity – it’s to do with “their” lifesytle. Fine. Maybe you’re not a racist – you just don’t like Travellers.

That *still* means that you’re prejudiced against *an entire group of people*, and have pre-judged them *all* based upon the actions of *some*.

You are presuming the guilt of *all* Travellers. You have decided that Travellers are not worthy of a fair hearing, that they should be pre-judged.

That makes you prejudiced.

I agree entirely that the French government is right to call for the EU/Council of Europe to recognise the problem of unauthorised encampments and try to find a common, Europe-wide answer to what is certainly a major issue.

What I don’t agree with is that the French government has the right to *presume* the guilt of an entire group of people.

You do, of course. As an individual, *you* have every right to be a bigot.

The French government does not. Not under International law, not under European law, not under French law. That’s the whole point.

“You are presuming the guilt of *all* Travellers. You have decided that Travellers are not worthy of a fair hearing, that they should be pre-judged.”

C’mon. Why not listen to or read the news.

The French government was closing down unauthorised encampments in France, where the majority of occupants turned out to be French nationals – by a large margin. But a minority were ethnic Roma, who had migrated to France from (mostly) Romania or Bulgaria and they were deported back to their countries of origin. All this has majority public support in France according to reports of public opinion polls there.

By reports in news media, the public complaints in France associated with these unauthorised encampments is that the occupants tend to depend on the rather generous welfare benefits financed by the French state and that the camps are often associated with local increases in crime.

You are claiming that by posting all that and remarking on documented similar historic experiences in Britain – including places where I have lived or am living – I am therefore prejudiced.

I am saying that you are being absurd and flinging about silly accusations of prejudice to avoid addressing the substantive public issues which you are manifestly ignorant about.

C’mon. Why not listen to or read the news.

YEah I bet the Nazis said the same about Jews. Well done for stupid comment of the day. No one comes near you.

@Bob B

Have you told the European Commission that the French are perfectly entitled to flout EU law? Because they seem to disagree with you…

Right – that’s it. I’m a patient guy, but I give up.

“Why not listen to or read the news”?

Go away, troll.

“Have you told the European Commission that the French are perfectly entitled to flout EU law? Because they seem to disagree with you…”

It’s highly arguable that the French government were, in fact, flouting EU law in respect of the migrants to France who were resident on illegal encampments there, with no secure employment or jobs in prospect during these times of austerity, and who are dependent on welfare benefits from the French state.

Just because EU Commissioner Reding, from Luxembourg, claims the French government was acting illegally doesn’t necessarily mean that it was and, for many reasons, flouting EU law and agreements is hardly unusual. For example, the budget deficit constraints in the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact of 1995 have been widely flouted in recent years by many EU member states for often excellent reasons – as you will probably agree.

The French government – correctly IMO – is making the point that the social and fiscal consequences of travelling communities, whether ethnic Roma or not, are not issues peculiar to France and that the more usual span and scale of problems connected with itinerant communities have been exacerbated by internal EU migration. In the case of France, the internal EU migrants in question recently are mainly Roma even though the majority of the occupants of the unauthorised encampments turned out to be French nationals.

“YEah I bet the Nazis said the same about Jews. Well done for stupid comment of the day. No one comes near you.”

But, Sunny, as I’ve explained repeatedly at length and patiently – for example @104 – comparisons with the Nazis are just hysterical nonsense.

All these silly attempts to paint the French government as Nazis and accuse me of prejudice amount to no more than concerted attempts to avoid discussing the substantive issues concerning closure of unauthorised encampments where a minority of the occupants were unemployed migrants to France who were dependent on welfare benefits from the French state.

The French are very properly saying this is a wider EU issue.

The fact from long experience in Britain is that unauthorised encampments by travelling communities create significant recurring social problems at cost to public spending. The mature approach is to recognise this fact and address the issue instead of engaging in puerile abuse of those you disagree with.

For any here seeking a detached perspective from an unbiased source:

Brussels struggles to address Roma issue
By Stanley Pignal in Brussels and Chris Bryant in Vienna
Financial Times: September 17 2010 20:06
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5b7f7c66-c28a-11df-956e-00144feab49a.html

FWIW the British experience is that government social programmes to “integrate Roma” are challenging to implement and not very effective.

The long-standing problem is the low educational attainment of Roma – because children are seldom settled for continuing education in schools – so their job prospects in the regular employment markets are poor. But then, we already have wider problems with tackling adult literacy and numercacy which have proved to be rather intractable despite costly remedial programmes:

“The National Curriculum test results also revealed that in spite of an improvement in English and maths, more than a third of pupils still left primary school without a proper grasp of the basics in reading, writing and maths.”
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ba881948-9f3f-11df-8732-00144feabdc0.html

Compare that with news relating to a report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee in 2006:

“Up to 12 million working UK adults have the literacy skills expected of a primary school child, the [HoC] Public Accounts Committee says. . . The report says there are up 12 million people holding down jobs with literacy skills and up to 16 million with numeracy skills at the level expected of children leaving primary school.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4642396.stm

“A £2bn scheme to improve basic skills among adults has been called a ‘depressing failure’ by education inspectors.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4506410.stm

Reading this thread is really hard going.
Will no one who finds the French government’s deportations of Roma back to Bulgaria and Romania appalling, tell us what the French government should do with extended families living in squatter camps on the edge of towns? Who don’t have the right to housing or benifits?
And as for the idea of ”how do you know where they are from?” ……. how about you ask them? I doubt if any Irish Travellers would ever be in danger of being deported to Romania. Why would French Romanies?

I think that people from Romania and Bulgaria only have a right to live in France more than three months if they follow some basic rules – and I think this is what they are falling foul of. The rules of residency and having the correct papers.
Local authorities have a right to be concerned about famlies living in squatter camps.
Are the children going to school? Health and saftey rules must come in to play somewhere? Toilets and running water etc.

As for people having a ”fair trial” or what have you ….. I think it works like this:
The police and social services turn up at a squatter camp and start asking questions. Like ….. ”Who are you? Why are you camped in the woods like this with your children? Where are you from? Where is your ID?”

I don’t approve of the way it’s done if it’s heavy handed and riot police turn up, or adopt a meanacing posture to the camp residents …. but tell me this …. what is the point in leaving them in these camps? No good will come out of that.

It’s up to Romania and Bulgaria to get this sorted someways (with lots of EU money of course) and there needs to be monitoring of Roma conditions in Eastern Europe, with those governments being told that things are not good enough. I once saw an appalling slum of a Roma camp from the train window outside Sofia. The EU needs to get this sorted.

What would your council do about 50 Romanian Roma people camped in the woods in your borough? House them all? And all their friends and neighbours who turned up because they heard there was free housing and benifits going somewhere?

I went on a day trip to the Irish town of Drogheda yesterday – I’d never been there before.
You can’t help but notice the Roma gypsies. The young women are sitting on the floor outside the shops in the high street with begging cups, while a couple of the men are busking all day and a couple of other men are just walking around and using their mobile phones – and come to check on the women from time to time. It reminds me of the TV show ”Bread” and the Boswell family from Liverpool, but it’s actually quite sad. I don’t think they get much money or sympathy anymore. Every town in Ireland is the same it seems.

“It’s up to Romania and Bulgaria to get this sorted someways (with lots of EU money of course) and there needs to be monitoring of Roma conditions in Eastern Europe, with those governments being told that things are not good enough. I once saw an appalling slum of a Roma camp from the train window outside Sofia. The EU needs to get this sorted.”

If I understand the FT report in the link @132 correctly, EU money on offer to the Romanian government is underspent and could be withdrawn if not spent by a deadline.

Putting EU money on the table is relatively easy but spending it effectively is another matter – see from @132 the troubles British governments have had trying to tackle adult literacy and numeracy failings. And those assessments come from Parliamentary select committee findings and inspectorate reports.

As mentioned, I’ve been aware of issues in Britain with unauthorised encampments – where mobile caravans usually provide the living accommodation, not shacks – since the early 1970s. Since then, local government organisations have been under a legal obligation to provide camp sites for travelling families (regardless of ethnic roots). But as you can see from the link @3 to a memorandum submitted by a local council to a Parliamentary select committee, sometimes residents on unauthorised encampments consistently reject offers of accommodation on official, approved camp sites.

I’ve also posted that judging by news reports and personal observations in my own neighbourhood, there are still problems with unauthorised encampments in Britain in recent years – nearly 40 years on from when I first became aware of the issues.

This thread could have been more helpful had there been constructive suggestions on how to address the substantive issues instead of calling the French/government Nazis and writing myself off as obviously prejudiced.

Damon @133 – your “how about you ask them?” is the whole point.

The French approach has been to not ask them, but to simply send them away. All of them. Whether they are in the country legally or not. Whether they can support themselves and their families or not. If they can support themselves, and they are EU citizens, they have every right to stay – if they can’t support themselves, under EU law France has every right to expel them after a three month period. France didn’t bother to find out, but unilaterally announced that she intended to expel thousands of them en masse, without investigation or the right of reply.

This is not a solution to any wider problem – a problem that no one denies exists. No one denies that there are criminal elements within the Travelling communities of Europe (both Roma and non). And there *is* a serious debate to be had about what can be done to prevent the disruption of life and property that can be caused by these groups.

But that discussion was not the point of the post. The point of the post was a deliberately narrow one about the nature of international legal obligations and the concept of human rights within the wider context of the last four hundred years of Western political thought.

Is the problem confined to France? Of course not. The point is that most other European countries have not so flagrantly broken their obligations under the various international human rights agreements as France has in the last weeks (though Italy did something similar a couple of years back, Romania’s treatment of the Roma is disgusting, several others have behaved in decidedly suspect manners towards them).

What’s my solution to the Roma problem? Stop treating them as if they’re a criminal underclass. Stop treating them as if they are all the same, some kind of faceless mass.

These are the first steps – because this is where many of the problems arise. Treat someone as if they’re a criminal and deny them opportunities to earn an honest living, they’ll quite often be forced to turn to crime. It’s a vicious circle that needs to be broken – and as this is a pan-European problem, it needs to be broken by a concerted, coordinated, pan-European effort.

But this is *all* beyond the scope of the post.

@134 This thread could have been more helpful if you hadn’t kept trying to derail it with only tangentially relevant sidetracks, while singularly failing to even consider *anything* that was said to you in reply that didn’t fit with your evident preconceptions about the issue.

@135: This thread could have been more helpful if you hadn’t kept trying to derail it with only tangentially relevant sidetracks, while singularly failing to even consider *anything* that was said to you in reply that didn’t fit with your evident preconceptions about the issue.

Contributors here were evidently unaware that social problems in Britain associated with travelling communities extend back many decades – which is why district councils were already under legal obligations to provide approved campsites with facilities for traveller caravans back in the 1970s.

The evidence cited @3 of the difficulties that Wakefield council has had in this last decade proves that the issues are not quickly and easily resolved despite long-standing benign intentions.

It is widely agreed that low educational attainment of successive generations of travelling communities is one of the main difficulties they have in gaining and maintaining regular employment.

The evidence cited @132 shows how difficult it is to remedy literacy and numeracy failings in the wider population despite spending billions of public money on focused programmes.

Likening the French/government to the the Nazis may be emotionally satisfying but it does nothing to alleviate either the plight of the Roma in France or the scale of social problems inflicted on the French by the presence of hundreds of unauthorised encampments where the majority of the residents were, in fact, French nationals.

Bob B

Contributors here were evidently unaware that social problems in Britain associated with travelling communities extend back many decades

Wrong; I was aware of them prior to your tediously repetitive comments.

That I didn’t discuss them is because I try not to go off-topic (not that I’m perfect) not because I was unaware of them.

I look forward to another million posts about Wakefield and concrete fortifications. Good night!

@136 OK, Bob – I’ll bite. One last time.

So there’s a massive problem. Offering accommodation doesn’t help. Throwing money at it doesn’t help. Attempting to educate people doesn’t help. Using existing legal methods doesn’t help.

What’s your final solution?

I love reading arguments about European law featuring a lot of people who haven’t studied European law. There’s a lot of very creative and imaginative thinking by posters on this topic.

Notwithstanding the above, I appreciate Nosemonkey taking the time to post and defend his position.

“What’s your final solution?”

The evidence after decades of well-intended attempts by successive governments in Britain is tackle the range of issues associated with travelling communities – of which Roma are only one contributing element – is that nothing very much has been achieved. The associated social problems, public nuisance and mini local crime waves continue.

The statutory obligation upon councils to provide campsites probably helps a little at the margin – at a high cost – and the existence of official campsites provides a good public justification for maintaining a strict policy of evicting the residents from unauthorised encampments. But if you speak with councils which – like Wakefield – have verging on continuous problems with unauthorised encampments, you’ll soon get to sense the exasperation of officials tasked to deal with the encampments – and recall that Wakefield is a Labour-controlled council.

The important insight is that low educational attainment traps successive generations of travelling communities in their predicament.

This has been going on for a long time. Those who know their history of economic thought will perhaps recall that Adam Smith (1723-90) – famously author of The Wealth of Nations (1776), widely credited as the pioneering text of political economy – was abducted as a small child by travelling gypsies:

“When he was three, Adam was stolen by gypsies from the door of his grandfather’s house at Strathendry, which today is separated from Kirkcaldy by Glenrothes. His grandfather was informed by a stranger and, knowing the surrounding land well, conjectured correctly the route by which Adam was taken, vigorously followed in pursuit and rescued his grandson.”
http://www.livingphilosophy.org.uk/philosophy/Adam-Smith/

Correcting bad editing:

“The evidence after decades of well-intended attempts by successive governments in Britain to tackle the range of issues associated with travelling communities – of which Roma are only one contributing element – is that nothing very much has been achieved. . . ”

Due apologies.

@Bob – So you’ve got nothing remotely constructive to add whatsoever, and no suggestions of ways to improve a situation with which you’ve apparently been obsessed for 30+ years bar yet another irrelevant anecdote that only goes to support racial/cultural stereotypes?

Glad we got that cleared up.

Next thing you know you’ll be telling us about the curse that was put on you by that Gypsy woman whose clothes pegs or lucky heather you refused to buy.

Seriously – have you got *any* point?

@139 Cheers – but I have to say, I don’t know why I bother…

Noesmonkey @135

But that discussion was not the point of the post. The point of the post was a deliberately narrow one about the nature of international legal obligations and the concept of human rights within the wider context of the last four hundred years of Western political thought.

But is that what most people on the left think of when they are hearing about this issue and seeing the pictures on TV? I think that a lot of people just take the more simple view that ”all deportations like that” are wrong regardless. And will just have empathy with the Roma – and none for France’s wesal words that actually they are correct in law on some technical points will change their minds. That the people they have deported were in some breach of the rules for living in France.

I don’t think that people are really that interested in the technical point – but more how it was (for example) written up in Saturday’s Independent leader column.

”Leading article: Despicable politics”
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/leading-articles/leading-article-despicable-politics-2081413.html

Those now being expelled by M. Sarkozy and Mr Berlusconi lost what protection they had enjoyed with Eastern Europe’s post-Communist collapse and moved to countries where their chances of survival were stronger. They are just the poorest of the poor, with a name hanging round their neck that guarantees discrimination. Those who prey politically on such hapless victims should be ashamed.

As this thread isn’t about what should have been done with the Roma that France has expelled it’s difficult to say more.
But I did notice the thread on the ”joke” about asylum seekers hiding themselves in boxes of chocolates trying to sneak into Britain in a lorry, to be more of the same of what I find wrong with these discussions.
If the Roma from Romania are from villages in the country, then a short term solution for the moment might be for them to go back home. Surely their living conditions there will have to be better than in a French squatter camp in the woods and begging on the streets of a foriegn country.

@144 I have no idea what anyone on the left thinks about when it comes to this issue, as I’m not a lefty. Nor do I especially care.

As for France being correct in law, they aren’t. Either *actual* law, or ideal, *natural* law. That’s the whole point.

Do I care whether people are “interested in” the technical point of the law? No. Quite the opposite – I think they couldn’t care less. The majority of replies to this post demonstrate that amply.

I do, however think it’s an important – in fact, a fundamental point. And one that’s often missed. Hence writing the post.

For the hundredth time: Neither I nor anyone else denies France’s right to deport illegal immigrants, or to deport EU citizens who are unable to support themselves after the three-month term. (The headline may imply differently, depending on how you read it – but I didn’t write the headline.)

The point is that France isn’t following due process. This means that the Roma’s human rights are being violated, and that France is leaving herself open to attack. No one wins.

The point is that France isn’t following due process.

Does that mean everyone should first be given an immigration lawyer and an interpreter?
And have an assigned social worker? What is due process with people who are of no fixed abode and have no documents to say who they are?
How was this due process supposed to have been initiated? By letter? By someone turning up at the camps and conducting interviews? By people answering questions in the police station?

In Ireland they have an asylum hostel with 700 people in it at a former Butlins holiday camp. There, ”due process” means that some people have been there for over five years. Usually because they refuse to accept the decisions made about their claims.
http://wapedia.mobi/en/Mosney

http://pavee.ie/mediamonitor/?tag=mosney-accommodation-centre

@145: “The point is that France isn’t following due process. This means that the Roma’s human rights are being violated, and that France is leaving herself open to attack.”

I know I shall be charged again with another irrelevance but try reading up on the illustrious career of Sir Percy Sillitoe, who rose from very humble origins in south London to become successively chief constable of Sheffield, then chief constable of Glasgow and finally head of MI5 in WW2 through to 1953:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Sillitoe

What the wikipedia entry covers up is the means he introduced to suppress the notorious gangs in Sheffield and then in Glasgow. This thread from a blog gives a flavour:

The Bowery Boys, Shamrock, Bingo Boys, Govan Team, Baltic Fleet, The Redskins… on and on went the list of gangs in every part of the city.

Their weapons were hatchets, sharpened bike chains, open razors, lead coshes and razor blades stitched into their caps and lapels.

There was the Irish political problem too with many Glasgow families having emanated from there. A few years before the IRA had a gun battle with cops as they tried to free one of their own. Now they used the city as their supply point.

They were supported by huge gangs like the Norman Conks, but they weren’t alone. The biggest single gang at that time was Loyalist, Protestant, Orange and would end each day by singing God Save the King. They were the Billy Boys, led by Billy Fullerton.

Sillitoe addressed the problem by recruiting the toughest men he could find, telling them to get stuck in. They did this so viciously one wag called Glasgow police “the biggest gang in the world”.

Over the next 10 years, with the courts also dishing out heavy sentences, the gang problem would recede and Silitoe’s approach given much of the credit. He sees it differently.
http://discuss.glasgowguide.co.uk/lofiversion/index.php/t15660.html

Other sources present a similar narrative. Because of the difficulties in gathering evidence against gangs to use in the courts, police “heavies” were sent round to beat up gang members – which wasn’t due process.

The progression in Sillitoe’s career shows that he was respected by the British establishment and he was promoted and then knighted for his methods. Recall that in America, the only conviction secured against Al Capone was on tax evasion charges.

Crime cultures are very resilient – and so are the police. Try this on Sillotoe’s methods in Sheffield – and the reference there to the Rhino Whip scandal in the Sheffield police in the early 1960s:
http://www.sheffieldforum.co.uk/archive/index.php/t-60620.html

There was an official inquiry in 1963 into the use of Rhino Whips by the Sheffield Police (White Paper Cmnd. 2176)
http://recycledbogrollblues.blogspot.com/2010/04/putrid-1963-police-rhino-whips-year-of.html

We really can’t maintain that our ways are so much better than those of the French.

@142: “@Bob – So you’ve got nothing remotely constructive to add whatsoever, and no suggestions of ways to improve a situation with which you’ve apparently been obsessed for 30+ years bar yet another irrelevant anecdote that only goes to support racial/cultural stereotypes?”

In some prevailing circumstances, “benign neglect” can be the rational option for public policy because there is nothing to do that will be effective. Local education authorities (rightly) continue to offer courses on adult literacy and numeracy but – as the inspectorate here found – there had been little improvement despite the spending of billions of public money.

Your little rants about “stereotyping” simply miss the point about umpteen social science studies showing the similarities and continuities of cultures and the modes of behaviour between eg street gangs or religious sects or cults.

Subjects like sociology and social psychology focus on observable similarities in the behaviour of groups. That is the whole point of these subjects.

The social behaviour of travelling communities has changed very little over many decades. As I keep saying, the important insight is that their low educational attainment traps successive generations in their predicament. To call that stereotyping just denies the reality – and it obscures the most likely effective remedial policy for “Roma integration”, which is the declared objective of EU policy and the funds on offer to support that policy. The very fact that the EU singles out the Roma as needing “integration” measures implicitly entails stereotyping and discrimination!

@146 The answer to all of those questions is “Yes – if that’s what the law says”.

“It’s too expensive” is no excuse for not following due process.

@148 Bob – one final time – so what’s your solution, Mr Expert?

Having successfully derailed the debate away from the substantive point, you’ve done nothing except repeat the same irrelevancies time and again.

If this thread is really just about the fine point of law that these people weren’t given due process …. that’s fine and I have no problem with it.
Just what that would mean in practice though I’m not sure and I don’t think it’s been discussed widely on this thread. It’s all very well saying ”it should be done” but how would it be done? If you are expecting others to do it, then you should be expected to at least explain how the process might work.

How do you initially approach such a camp in the woods. Just send a couple of people form the council down their with clip boards and start asking people if they would agree to be interviewed? Do you send them there escorted by a couple of police and some interpreters? Do you ask them to visit the council offices or the police station next time they are in town? What if they don’t cooperate and you feel you are getting nowhere?

Call me a sceptic, but I can see this ”due process” being a frustrating experience.
”How long have you been here? When did your children join you here? When did your sister arrive? And when did your brother’s children arrive, and with who.” And blah blah blah. After a couple of weeks of this you might feel you had got no further, or some of the people had just moved on somewhere else.

If that’s what people mean by due process than there is a big problem.
Try asking for due process in a Europen country when you get done for speeding and the policeman wants you to pay a fine on the spot.
It’s the same with people driving foreign cars. After a certain time (six months I think) you are supposed to re-register it in the country you are in. How do you prove how long the car has been in the country. Due process?

If this is all just about due process – then it’s a bit of a pointless thread as it ignores the very real and unique issues that the European Roma will bring to having their position in Europe integrated and regularised.

And Bob B – you didn’t help either.

“@148 Bob – one final time – so what’s your solution, Mr Expert?”

Constantly monitor for and suppress unauthorised encampments to prevent build up of problems but be ready with offers of accommodation on alternative approved campsites.

Try to make sure that user-friendly literacy and numeracy course opportunities are available to travelling communities, perhaps through itinerent tutors. But don’t expect good take-up.

Strive to gain agreement on EU-wide policy, with support funding, regarding itinerent or mobile impoverished migrating groups. The actions of the French in deporting jobless migrants resident on illegal encampments and dependent on state welfare benefits back to countries of origin is not necessarily contrary to EU law. In any case, EU laws – such as the supposedly binding restrictions on maximum budget deficits – are often flouted, not least because the Stability and Growth Pact of 1995 never envisaged the possibility of the scale and depth of the recent international financial crisis. This simply illustrates why the Anglo-Saxon tradition of common law is a better system of juriprudence than the Napoleonic code.

Recognise that unnecessary use of the term Roma in official documents – instead of expressions such as “travelling communities” or the like – will attract accusations of Nazism or stereotyping. Besides, travelling communities are not exclusively Roma. As the French found, the majority of occupants of unauthorised encampments were French nationals.

We are apt to forget that the land area of France is about 2.25 times the land area of Britain although the population is about the same. France is far more rural and provincial than Britain.

Damon,

I imagine you’d have to be fairly desperate to spend years in Mosney.

But consider what happens in the absence of “due process”: a bureaucrat or policeman or politician points a finger and his target is punished / deported. This may well be an appropriate outcome; on the other hand, he might be be entirely innocent and fully entitled to be here. Would you prefer life with, or without, due process?

That some people take advantage, or get away with it, or spend years living in a former holiday camp, might be a cost the majority of us pay to live in relative freedom.

“And Bob B – you didn’t help either.”

In many different contexts – but especially regarding national heathcare systems – I have often made the point that we repeatedly fail in Britain to see how other west European countries have addressed similar issues because we can learn from their experience. Chauvinism and insularity are impediments to developing fruitful solutions to otherwise apparently intractable problems.

As I’ve tried to show, in Britain we have had experience of the problems associated with travelling communities going back more than 40 years to my personal knowledge. I thought it worthwhile to bring that out to see what lessons might be learned.

The issues about whether or not the French/government broke EU laws and behaved like Nazis seems to me to be trivial to the point of sillyness as well as offensive. It is highly arguable that the French have broken EU laws and EU laws are often more honoured in the breach than by observance.

As for silly accusations of stereotyping, EU policy has (patronisingly) identified the Roma as in need of “integration” and the EU has made (underspent) funds available for that purpose. The clear implication is that Roma collectively have stereotypical problems which merit positive discrimination.

Bob B,

As for silly accusations of stereotyping, EU policy has (patronisingly) identified the Roma as in need of “integration” and the EU has made (underspent) funds available for that purpose. The clear implication is that Roma collectively have stereotypical problems which merit positive discrimination.

Just as an aside, if you re-read your posts where you blithely associated Roma with crime, including metal theft and child-kidnapping, and invent criminal motivations for not remaining on authorised sites, I’m sure you might understand why you might be considered to be stereotyping (in the negative sense).

I don’t have a problem with due process as long as it’s explained ukliberty. I’m not disagreeing with you. And I agree about Mosney too.

I went there on thursday, as I explained in this bickering thread about Mosney on an Irish political website (in the last couple of pages)
The asylum seekers (who I support getting due process there) are made to live there and get all board and lodgings free, and just 20 euros a week in cash.

Someone started a thread about the car park outside the camp being full of cars belonging to the people living in the camp. And if you see the post at number 2, it immediately jumps to ”Racist troll alert ”. That’s how the subject is discussed in Ireland between the liberals and the reactionary right.
http://www.politics.ie/current-affairs/133966-20-week-can-afford-car-im-confused.html

And when someone comes back and says it was a fair point to raise, the 5th post on the thread just says ”Apologist troll alert!!!!!”

And that’s why I’m no longer a leftist in that sense. One side is as bad as the other.
This website gets like that too. Which is a pity when you want to discuss things that are important but quite difficult.

“Just as an aside, if you re-read your posts where you blithely associated Roma with crime, including metal theft and child-kidnapping, and invent criminal motivations for not remaining on authorised sites, I’m sure you might understand why you might be considered to be stereotyping (in the negative sense).”

Apart from the extensively documented abduction of Adam Smith as a child aged 3 by travelling gypsies in the early 18th century, the other associations I have made were in connection with travellers or travelling communities settled on unauthorised encampments.

Why do you suppose these encampments invoke the scale of public complaints to local councils that they do? This is not an invention on my part – umpteen news items can be easily found in local press reports. I’ve posted a few links @35.

Why do you suppose the site owners of a vacant superstore, fronted by a large car parking space, along a major trunk route out of London about a mile from where I sit, have gone to the trouble and expense of fortifying the boundaries with blocks of concrete, which take a crane to move, as well as girder bollards concreted into the ground? Could this possibly be because the site became an encampment before the fortifications were installed?

The said fortifications are highly visible and cannot be denied. I deal in the realities, not romantic fantasies.

Bob B, in fact you supplied no evidence that travellers were behind metal thefts in Barnsley, but appeared to assume it based on 10 mile distant camp from where the crimes occurred.

The said fortifications are highly visible and cannot be denied. I deal in the realities, not romantic fantasies.

But no-one here has denied those fortifications exist.

No-one has denied there are illegal camps.

No-one has denied that some travellers are criminals.

No-one has denied that some are illegal immigrants.

No-one has denied that some travellers may be poorly educated and therefore disadvantaged.

No-one has denied that something should be done about illegal camps, criminals, illegal immigrants and poorly educated people.

Clue: when someone doesn’t talk about what you think they should talk about, it doesn’t entail they are ignorant or disagree or in denial.

Please stop making things up about other people (commenters and travellers).

Feel free to have the last word.

The principal complaint about the French then is that they attmpted to address the causes of all those undeniable and unwanted developments and trends associated with unauthorised encampments mainly occupied by French nationals.

But for careless drafting by some French bureaucrat – “especially the Roma” – and the ill-considered comments of EU Commissioner Reding from Luxembourg likening the French to the Nazis, there is not evidently much to debate.

@158 How exaclty is kicking a bunch of people out and making them somebody else’s problem “addressing the causes”? In my books, that’s little better than saying “fuck it, I can’t be bothered”. As tempting an attitude as this is (trust me – I’ve felt that way numerous times since you cropped up on this thread), it helps no one.

@Damon – You seem to be saying (much more effectively and succinctly) what Bob has been trying to, namely that there is a broader European problem that needs to be addressed. If so, agreed entirely. The difficulties of the Roma’s place in European society have been bubbling under, ignored, for centuries (as Bob’s incessant, inexhaustible supply of examples serve to illustrate).

The worst irony of this whole situation is that we’re slap-bang in the middle of a supposedly concerted attempt to address the issue, the pan-European Decade of Roma Inclusion – http://www.romadecade.org/, which kicked off in 2005 (nothing to do with the EU, though). So far, during the first five years of this programme, anti-Roma sentiment and resentment has only risen.

The fact that after five years of concerted effort, funded by the UN, World Bank and Council of Europe, we’re still experiencing problems is precisely why I deliberately made no attempt to come up with a solution myself in a short blog post. It’s vastly complex, has been going on for centuries, and affects every single European country in subtly different ways.

As I say, the only thing I *am* certain of is that treating the Roma as outcastes – which is what France was overtly doing – is no solution at all. If anything, it makes the problem worse. The fact that the French public is increasingly supportive of Sarkozy since the evictions (just as the Italian public were increasinly supportive of Berlusconi when he tried the same a year or two back) only goes to prove this point – kicking out the Roma is popular, and persecuting them stirs up anti-Roma feeling.

Kicking out the Roma, therefore, is in my view the *least* constructive option (as well as being illegal). And if I had a workable solution I’d be presenting it to the Council of Europe, UN or EU – not coming up with armchair theories on a blog.

Finally, it’s worth noting that just because people act as if there’s a problem with a particular community doesn’t mean that it is that community’s fault, or due to anything that they have acutally done. The Roma are a very, very easy scapegoat for any number of ills, and in many parts of Europe are the punchline of the modern equivalent of that charming old election slogan “If you want a nigger for a neighbour vote Labour”.

In other words, Bob, just because there is evidence of a problem with the Roma going back centuries doesn’t mean that the Roma are to blame, any more than the Jews were to blame for the Holocaust.

As this story has now dropped off the Liberal Conspiracy main page it’s probably not worth continuing with it ….. and where did yet another Roma story lead? Absolutely nowhere IMO. Due process – due process. Fine. And no one suggested how that might be brought about. If you (anyone reading this) were charged with contacting the Roma people who had set up camp in some woods in your borough ….. how would you handle it?
Just walk in there on your own and try to start talking with the people there?
Or would you approach them when you saw them in town and try it that way?
It’s not so easy. I’m curious about the Roma people in my area of Belfast. There’s guys selling the evening paper at the traffic lights that I see every day. I say hello sometimes, but asking ”where are you from?” is a bit rude. I’m curious because if they’re from Romania they shouldn’t be working here. I also know where they live as I pass their houses on the way into the city. The women sell the big issue and beg, and the men sell the evening paper and busk. They have cars, bicycles and mobile phones, so to give to a woman begging seems a bit pointless if she’s just going to give it to her husband to put petrol in the car.

But back to due process. I think a person just visiting the camp and trying to pin down things like names and documents and information about where people are from and how long they have been there would be a fruitless excercise.
If people don’t sppek English you’d need an interpreter, and health and saftey rules might even require you to have some police accompany you ….. which would immediately make things tense. Maybe the police could wait outside or something. But if people wanted to lie to you then you would have a difficult job. If they are allowed to be there for three months, what do you do when they say that they only got there yesterday?
Yes they say, the camp has been there for some time, but they only just turned up. Visiting. On holiday even. What are you going to do then? Walk away with your piece of paper and think you’ve done something useful?

I’m not saying I support the way the French go about things, but it may well deter Roma from going to France. I reckon the word is getting back that Ireland is much more friendly.
Even Belfast now that they know to stay out of some rough Loyalist neighbourhoods.
They live in a catholic area just close to a Sinn Fein office, and Sinn Fein are very much pro Roma and against discrimination – so it looks like more could come.
In the Republic it’s even better, and the Irish police are a total pushover, unlike those gruff French and Italian ones.

The problem is, that if a country like France had a policy of giving every arriving Roma a place to live and unemployment benifits straight away – the whole of Europe’s Roma population might just turn up there. In the Irish Republic, the dole is about 200 euros a week, so it’s serious money that can be had if you can get it.
That’s why a lot of Eastern Europeans who lost their jobs due to the recession are still in the Republic signing on.

damon, I don’t understand your point.

@160 – The thing is, unemployed people from other EU member states are not entitled to claim unemployment benefit unless they have *already* held down a job for two years.

Otherwise, if they are unable to support themselves financially after a three month period, the host country has every right to deport them. They have no right to benefits.

The “eastern Europeans coming over here and claiming benefits” thing is a myth, plain and simple.

The eastern europeans claiming benifit in Ireland will certainly have been working for the required time. The Irish are very strict on that, and I myself was turned down as I hadn’t worked there for many years. If you can get on the dole there though it’s very lucrative. I can’t believe it’s so high. In the UK it’s just 65 pounds a week. In Dublin loads of young lads are just languishing on the dole as they can’t be bothered to work for wages not that much higer than the 200 euros they get already. Even when there was work there was still a lot of unemployed youth – while eastern europeans were getting jobs as soon as they arrived.

ukliberty you don’t get my point? That commencing due process with people living in squatter camps would be extremely difficult, and if people wanted to give you the runaround then that would be entirely easy. You would first have to prove that every individual had been there longer than three months. If they told you they had only been in the country for a week what do you do? And when you say ”But I’ve seen you in the town for months” and they tell you ”No that wasn’t me, that was my sister who has gone back to Romania” then that’s you stumped I guess.

If it is intolerable to allow people to live in the woods in squatter camps, then the only other option would be to house them. How do you house people who have no right to housing? Put them in temporary accommodation, try to find a charity who can offer them somewhere or a church hall?
And then what? Wait till the time comes that Romanians and Bulgarians qualify for full EU rights? The children will have to be able to go to school, and the families will need food and money. It’s no good just saying they don’t qualify and leaving them to starve.
In the EU that’s not allowed.

I think those who have shouted most loudly about what France has done have offered no solutions to what the French should actually have done. It’s all very well talking about ”due process” but how do you start this process with people who might not see it in their best interests to cooperate with you? And are just as likely to leave town if they feel that something that they don’t want is underway. (ie – being under due process and soon to be deported).

The OP’s argument is pure sophistry. IF any of the Roma could prove they were in the country legally their removal would be “illegal” (quite how a states right to determine who lives in and benefits from it’s protections can ever be deemed illegal is another debate). If they cannot do that then, and none have, then their removal is legal. The fact that they are not a defined ethnic group is irrelevant to the law (terrorists, rapists and pedos aren’t defined ethnic groups either)

@ 162 The “eastern Europeans coming over here and claiming benefits” thing is a myth, plain and simple.”

Nonsense – A family arriving from Eastern Europe (or anywhere else) with no where to live would be deemed homeless. The local authority would then be legally obliged to give them priority housing. I think most people would consider free accomodation to be “a benefit”.

@164 – The point is that they weren’t offered the chance to prove their right of residence

@165 – http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/homelessness/eu_and_eea_nationals/eligibility_for_housing_and_benefits

“All EEA/EU nationals have an automatic right to live in the UK for three months after their arrival. If you are not working during these three months, you will not be eligible to:

– apply to go on the council’s waiting list for social housing
– get help from the council if you become homeless
– claim social security benefits.”

This is the most succinct summary, though I dare say I could point you to the appropriate legislation if you *really* want.

Have you got any evidence – other than BNP pamphlets – to prove that this is “nonsense”?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    France has no right to expel Roma and flout the rule of law http://bit.ly/bM2Vep

  2. Nathaniel Simpson

    RT @libcon: France has no right to expel Roma and flout the rule of law http://bit.ly/bM2Vep

  3. Pablo Bello

    RT @libcon: France has no right to expel Roma and flout the rule of law http://bit.ly/bM2Vep

  4. Sarah Raphael

    RT @libcon: France has no right to expel Roma and flout the rule of law http://bit.ly/bM2Vep

  5. Joe McCrohon

    RT @libcon: France has no right to expel Roma and flout the rule of law http://bit.ly/bM2Vep

  6. WardblawG

    RT @libcon: France has no right to expel Roma and flout the rule of law http://bit.ly/bM2Vep

  7. Jim Jepps

    RT @libcon: France has no right to expel Roma and flout the rule of law http://bit.ly/bM2Vep

  8. felice

    RT @libcon: France has no right to expel Roma and flout the rule of law http://bit.ly/bM2Vep

  9. Tara

    RT @sunny_hundal: France has no right to expel Roma and flout the rule of law http://t.co/xslHrMD says @nosemonkey

  10. Bruno Bernard

    RT @sunny_hundal: France has no right to expel Roma and flout the rule of law http://t.co/xslHrMD says @nosemonkey

  11. Old Holborn

    Involved in a rather large punch up with some Marxists. Feel free to pile in http://bit.ly/dmCJ6j

  12. J Clive Matthews

    I'm always amazed at just how happy people are to revel in their own ignorance: http://bit.ly/dmCJ6j (Comments below the Roma piece I did)





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.