Situation of Roma in France at crisis proportions - report

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A new report by the European Roma Rights Centre finds that France's Gypsy and Romani population lives in a pervasive climate of racism and discrimination.

Hard on the heels of the riots in France, the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) has published a detailed report on the human rights situation of Gypsies, Travellers and Romani migrants in France. Entitled Always somewhere else: Anti-Gypsyism in France, the report sums up the findings of the ERRC's relevant research and monitoring activities since 2003.

According to the report, the settled Gypsy population in France is officially estimated at around 500,000, although other estimates say that the actual figure is much closer to 1.2 million. The report says that the vast majority of Gypsies and Travellers in France are French nationals. Travellers (Gens du voyage) are understood to be mobile home dwellers.

In the report, the ERRC says that "France is renowned as the source and guardian of modern democracy and of individual rights and freedoms; yet, hundreds of thousands of French citizens are subject to severe violations of the most basic civil and political rights without this seeming to cause even a ripple of protest, let alone public outcry, at the challenge posed to the very foundations of the French Republic. A large part of those affected by these violations are Gypsies and Travellers, indicating that these violations are in fact racist in character".

Roma minorities are widely considered the most vulnerable to racism and discrimination in the new EU member states as well, especially in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.

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