Giving Memory A Future
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The expulsion of Roma people from France, 2010-2012

"It's very hard to move from place to place. We can't even stay for a bit. As soon as I hear I'm going, it's like, I feel my heart ache."
(Maria, a Roma woman living in a warehouse in Sucy-en-Brie)

An informal settlement in Seine-Saint Denis, north-east of Paris, where some families are camped after eviction from Villeneuve-Le Roi September 11, 2012.
© Amnesty Iternational.

Sign in Tamnay-en-Bazois (France), 2007: "Parking prohibited for nomads and peddlers." © Monique Heddebaut .


  • August-September 2010: France repatriated about 1,000 Roma, who are EU citizens originally from Bulgaria and Romania, sending them back by plane.
    The decision was preceded by a media and cultural campaign stigmatising Roma people. France's President, Nicolas Sarkozy, dubbed illegal Roma settlements “hotbeds of crime”, and the demolition of camps began shortly thereafter. NGOs, international bodies and sections of French civil society condemn the action. Many Roma people announced their imminent return to France, on the basis of EU rules on freedom of movement.
  • On September 9, 2010, the European Parliament passes a resolution calling for a moratorium on the mass expulsions of Roma people from France. All EU member State governments are asked to foster the social integration of Roma people, and deep concern is voiced at “the inflammatory and openly discriminatory rhetoric” of political speeches as well as "the measures taken by the French authorities and other Member States targeting Roma and Travellers."
  • September 2010: the European Commission starts an infringement procedure against France for failing to ensure the right to freedom of movement for EU citizens within European borders.
  • In 2011-2012, 8,610 dwellers were forcibly evicted from 85 illegal settlements. In the first nine months of 2012 alone, 8,198 people were forcibly evicted from 73 camps (Source: Amnesty International).
  • November 2012: Amnesty International publishes an English-language Report entitled, "Chased away: Forced evictions of Roma in the Ile-de-France" and a press release (in Italian).