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NEWS: Kenney at French ‘Roma’ summit draws EU criticism

The Globe and Mail reports that “Immigration Minister Jason Kenney met over the weekend in Paris… with his French counterpart, Eric Besson, and officials from several European Union governments to discuss ‘best practices’ and explore ways to work together to thwart false asylum claims and prevent human trafficking, he said.”

What is being considered? “One example: a joint publicity campaign to counter misconceptions spread by smugglers about the reception that awaits illegal migrants.” This “could include a joint campaign to persuade unqualified migrants that they aren’t welcome.” Kenney also noted that, “There was some discussion about certain issues on which, theoretically, we might find more co-operation in the future, such as returning illegal immigrants and failed claimants, and sharing information on the designation of safe countries.”

Postmedia News has also reported that, “Canada is being drawn into the controversy over President Nicholas Sarkozy’s controversial initiative to expel (almost 1,000) Roma migrants, with Immigration Minister Jason Kenney coming under criticism for agreeing to attend a France-hosted meeting… that has been described by some as an ‘anti-Roma’ gathering.”

“France, according to (Liberal MP Ujjal) Dosanjh, is violating European Union law by deliberately targeting the Roma and should therefore be openly condemned by the Canadian government. …While France is legally entitled to expel non-nationals from EU countries who arrive and are unable to find work after being here three months, the EU prohibits member states from targeting groups based on race.”

Kenney has replied, “I’m not … going to follow the call of the Liberal Party of Canada and start boycotting liberal-democratic allies of the European Union because we may have questions about one particular policy.”

But the fact of the matter is that German interior minister opted not to attend the summit and the British home secretary declined the invitation as well.

The media has also reported that the “French initiative against the Roma” has resulted in criticisms from the Council of Europe. It has been highlighted that the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy was ‘disturbed’ by the meeting in Paris.

And the leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (and possibly the next president of the European Commission) MEP Guy Verhofstadt and ALDE MEP Sophia in ‘t Veld have called for a parliamentary debate on the situation for Roma people in Europe once MEPs return to work for the Strasbourg plenary in September. They have also demand that the Council and the European Commission make an official comment on the explusions of the Roma.

There have also been criticisms from the Vatican, the United Nations anti-racism committee, and Amnesty International.