For Immediate Release: January 10, 2011
Washington, DC – Human Rights First is urging President Barack Obama to raise the issue of Roma rights during French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to Washington, DC this week. The organization noted that the United States has often declared a desire to combat discrimination, segregation and violence against Roma and that the President’s meeting with Sarkozy offers a unique opportunity to demonstrate U.S. leadership on this important issue.
As Presidents Obama and Sarkozy met at the White House, Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre issued the following statement:
“Since July 2010, the French government has dismantled 200 camps populated by Roma and Traveler groups. It has also expelled more than 1,200 Roma individuals from France back to their countries of origin through a variety of means, including mandatory deportation orders and so-called “voluntary” repatriations. The United States’ response to these expulsions is critical. Human Rights First urges you to condemn these acts, as well as the negative stereotyping of Roma by French politicians. Failure to raise this important issue will only undermine the security and safety of Roma throughout Europe.”
In September 2010, Human Rights First led a group of human rights leaders in urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to comment publicly on the expulsions and to demonstrate U.S. leadership to combat such discrimination. A copy of that letter is available here.
For more information about Roma rights or to speak with a member of Human Rights First’s Fighting Discrimination team, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at 202-370-3323.