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Romanian Parliament condemns Roma expulsion

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(BUCHAREST) - Romania's parliament on Wednesday condemned France for a "serious violation" of its citizens' rights over its crackdown the Roma.

"The House of representatives and the Senate noted with concern the recent actions of the French authorities and of other European States against groups of ethnic Roma who are Romanian citizens and who have been either expelled either repatriated", the Parliament says in a statement published on Wednesday.

The lawmakers said the expulsion took place in a context of "discriminatory actions".

"We consider that these actions constitute a serious violation of citizens' rights and freedom", the statement added.

Romanian lawmakers "welcomed" the criticism of the French clampdown on Roma expressed by the European Parliament, the European Commission and the United Nations.

The Parliament also "categorically rejected any political attempt to artificially link the Roma question or the way the Romanian justice system is functioning to the entry of Romania in the Schengen-passport-free-zone".

French officials have repeatedly tried to make a link between these issues, saying that Romania's entry into the Schengen-zone, planned in March 2011, could be delayed.

Romania's President Traian Basescu should take "all necessary measures to ensure that the fundamental rights of all Romanian citizens are respected," said the statement.

He should also make sure that both a national and a European strategy for the integration of Roma was implemented.

Romania's Roma community is the biggest in Europe: while the official census puts the figure at 530,000 people, some pressure groups say it is as high as 2.5 million.

The European Commission is expected to decide on September 29 whether to launch infringement proceedings against France, which could lead to a case before the EU's highest court if Paris fails to comply with European laws.

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