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(Universite de Paris).  Another is the development of internet sites and waggon-schools on campsites in the Val de Loire. (Source:  Marcel Courtiade, unpublished).

Commentators on the situation of Gypsies in France drew attention to the lack of halting sites, poor living conditions, marginalisation, and enforced dependency on social welfare.  Local authorities are obliged since 1990 to provide halting sites for nomadic Gypsies but in practice strong local opposition tends to prevent this from happening.  Sites are also regulated in ways that restrict Gypsy economic activities.  The RMI (Revenu Minimum d'Insertion) scheme established in 1988 as a safety net is criticised for being overly bureaucratic involving long delays in processing applications. The Association for the Care of Travellers (ASAV) has denounced deportations of Roma to Romania.  There have also been reports of forced evictions of Roma from Nanterre in the suburbs of Paris (IRR, Reports).

There is legislation in France to prohibit racism.  For instance, in the preamble to the Constitution all forms of racial discrimination are condemned. Article 2 of the Constitution contains the following: "France is a republic, indivisible secular, democratic and social.  It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion.  It shall respect all beliefs."  But non-citizens or "aliens" are not protected by this.  An act of Parliament in 1972 outlaws racism and the French Criminal Code prohibits discrimination in employment.  However, despite the recognition of discrimination against people on the basis of membership of an ethnic group, there is no direct jurisprudence in respect of groups and Gypsy identity is associated with lifestyle rather than ethnicity.  Challenges to racism in France have to be taken at an individual level, thereby removing the opportunity to prove the existence of racism against specific ethnic groups.  There are also some laws and regulations which have negative impacts on minority ethnic groups, for instance, the 1993 Pasqua laws revoked some of the rights of migrants and aggravated their precarious position in relation to social security and benefits (health, housing, family life).

Despite these shortcomings, the recent financial penalties imposed on Mr. LePen, leader of Front National (FN), for incitement to racism provides encouragement for anti-racist organisations.  Mention of Mr. LePen also brings to mind the complexity of racism and xenophobia as evidenced by the fact that some Tsiganes are reported to have become associated with the FN.


In Germany citizenship is related to jus sanguinis and the notion of a ‘people’ and consequently naturalisation is very restricted.    There is also considerable support for extreme right organisations and neo-Nazi groups, fuelled by the arrival of a large number of asylum-seekers.  The Constitution 3(3) does have provision to counter discrimination:

“No one may be prejudiced or favoured because of his sex, his parentage, his race, his language, his homeland and origin, his faith or his religion or political opinions.”

Nevertheless, Roma/Sinti status is ambiguous2.  When ratifying the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, Germany designated the Danes and the Serbs as National Minorities, but added that it would also apply the provisions of the Convention to two other groups:  Roma/Sinti, and Frisians.  This seems to mean that Roma and Sinti are not recognised as minorities de jure, but will be treated de facto as minorities.  German authorities are negative towards the emergence of minorities.  Immigrants considered ethnically German (Aussiedler) can become full citizens.  Contract workers and guest workers (gastarbeiter) are expected to return home when no longer required for work.  Overall the expectation is that assimilation is what works best.  

There is a relatively large Sinti and Roma population in Germany.  Over the past decade this population has increased with the arrival of Roma asylum-seekers from Macedonia, Romania and the former Yugoslavia.  The new immigrants went mostly to Essen, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf, Mainz, Mannheim, Berlin and Hamburg.  The German authorities (e.g. the Westphalian government) have repatriated Roma to Macedonia (1990) on the basis that these were economic and not political refugees.  There were also deportations to Romania and a refusal to accept that persecution of Roma in Romania merited political asylum (Helsinki Watch Report, 1991).  Roma/Sinti support groups

2 Roma is used to refer to groups who migrated to Germany after the middle of the 19th century; Sinti referes to earlier migrations from the 15th century.

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