• France edition
 
France deports Roma pupil during school trip
File photo of French police carrying out an expulsion order in Lille northern France. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

France deports Roma pupil during school trip

Published: 16 Oct 2013 09:34 GMT+02:00
Updated: 16 Oct 2013 09:34 GMT+02:00

Just as the latest furore surrounding France and its treatment of the Roma community appeared to have died down, more controversy was sparked this week when a schoolgirl was pulled off a bus during a school trip and expelled back to Kosovo.

Along with her family, Leonarda, 15, who was studying at a school in Doubs, eastern France and her family were due to be deported from France on October 9th. But when French police arrived at the family home on that day, the young girl was not there.

The girl, who the French media describe as Roma, was actually on a bus with her classmates for a school trip. Officers decided not to wait until she had returned and decided to pull the girl off the trip.

'I asked her to say goodbye to her friends...She started to cry'

Her teacher, named as Madame Giacoma, told investigative website Mediapart that she received a call from the mayor of nearby Levier, ordering her to stop the bus "immediately."

"At first I refused...but he passed me on to a border police agent...whose language was more firm and direct, and he told me we had no choice but to stop the bus, so they could pick up a pupil who was in an irregular [immigration] situation," said the teacher.

Giacoma repeatedly resisted the demands of officials, which she called "inhumane," before finally giving in. "I asked Leonarda to say goodbye to her friends, and I exited the bus with her...I explained the situation to her, and she started to cry a lot," she added.

"I held her in my arms to comfort her. I told her she would be facing some difficult moments, but that she had to have courage. Then a police car arrived."

Leonarda was sent back to Kosovo along with her five brothers and sisters and parents. She spoke to France Info radio on Wednesday from Kosovo, pleading to be allowed to return to France.

"All I want is to start back at school again, so I can have a future," she said.


Leonarda, after her deportation to Kosovo. Photo: Armend Nimani/AFP

'Scandalous and unjustifiable'

The incident has made headlines across France and angered many in the ruling Socialist party, whose spokesman described it as “shocking”.

”Being taken off a bus by police in front of all her classmates is unbearable and unacceptable,” said David Assouline, a spokesman for the Socialist Party.

“The circumstances that led local authorities to take this decision must be clearly established,” he added.

Socialist MP Pouria Amirshahi also expressed his “dismay” and demanded the “immediate return of Leonarda and her family to France”.

And other socialists took to Twitter to express their anger. "The arrest of Leonarda is scandalous and unjustifiable. The prefecture must be summoned and punished," said Paris MP Sandrine Mazetier.

'Laws were applied with intelligence, insight and humanity'

Once again France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who caused outrage last month when he accused the Roma of not wanting to integrate in France, was forced to put his head above the parapet to defend the actions the French police.

In a response to the uproar Valls ordered an official investigation into the incident on Thursday and he tried to calm the controversy around the incident by calling for "everyone to keep their cool".  

"Do not doubt for a moment that the laws are applied with intelligence, insight and humanity," he said.

On Tuesday the minister defended the “strict application of deportation decisions while ensuring the strict compliance with the rights of immigrants, who are subject to expulsion orders" but on Thursday he ordered an investigation into the incident.

Giving his version of the incident Valls said: “A member of the family support group called the girl on her cell phone. It was agreed between the family, the representative from the Support Committee, the teacher in charge of the trip and the police to allow the girl to rejoin her family as they were deported."

“The girl got off the bus to wait for the officials who came to take her away,” Valls added.

Don't miss a story about France - Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Gaza crisis
Jewish groups call for Pro-Israel march in Paris
Up to 6,000 pro-Israel protesters march through Marseille. Paris will see its own pro-Israel march take place on Thursday. Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP.

Jewish groups call for Pro-Israel march in Paris

France’s main Jewish organisation has appealed to all the “friends of Israel” to turn out for a rally outside the Israeli embassy in Paris on Thursday. It comes as Muslim groups call for a right-wing Jewish militant organisation to be banned in France. READ  

Air France strike set to hit holidaymakers
Travellers set for disruption after Air France staff called a strike for Saturday. Photo:Shutterstock

Air France strike set to hit holidaymakers

Air France flights to and from France are set to be severely disrupted on Saturday after several unions called on workers to go on strike. The industrial action could cause misery for many holidaymakers. READ  

French zoo sees birth of rare Sri Lankan leopards
Two female Sri Lankan leopard cubs, born on July 1st, 2014, lay in their cage in the zoo of Maubeuge, northern France, on July 29th, 2014. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

French zoo sees birth of rare Sri Lankan leopards

There was a boost for the endangered Sri Lankan leopard this week when it was reported that two cubs had been born in a French zoo. Only around 700 of the sub-species remain alive in the wild. READ  

Why topless French women are covering up
Why going topless on French beaches is no longer de rigueur. Photo: Shutterstock

Why topless French women are covering up

Topless sunbathers were once synonymous with French beaches, but with the trend apparently no longer de rigeur, The Local looks at why French women no longer feel the need, or feel comfortable taking their tops off on the beaches. READ  

Uproar over sale of 'jihadist book' in France
'Islamist propaganda' sold in mainstream French stores has sparked controversy. Photo: Screengran/Amazon

Uproar over sale of 'jihadist book' in France

An apparent nondescript book called 'The Way of the Muslim', which is on sale in 1,000 stores across France, contains incitement to holy war and encourages killing “heretics” leading to uproar and calls for the text to be pulled. READ  

France hands over 'Jewish museum shooter'
Mehdi Nemmouche, the suspect in the Jewish museum shooting in Belgium has been handed over to authorities in Brussels. Photo: AFP

France hands over 'Jewish museum shooter'

French police handed over Mehdi Nemmouche to their counterparts in Brussels on Tuesday. Nemmouche is suspected of shooting dead four people at a Jewish museum in the Belgian capital in May. READ  

France set to pull its nationals out of Libya
Libyan security services and civilians gather across the street after a car bomb attack on the French embassy in Tripoli, Libya on April 23rd, 2013. Photo: Mahmud Turkia/AFP

France set to pull its nationals out of Libya

Amid an increasingly dangerous environment in Libya, France has decided to evacuate its nationals for their safety, according to reports on Tuesday. France's decision comes amid warnings and similar evacuations of other foreigners from the strife-torn North African nation. READ  

Nibbling rats blamed for French rail crash
The rear of a TGV train after it was hit by a regional TER train in south western France on Thursday. Photo: Mehdi Fedouach/AFP

Nibbling rats blamed for French rail crash

Rats nibbling at signalling cables led to a crash between two passenger trains that injured 40 people in south-west France earlier this month, a new report has announced. And signal failure is not the only problem being blamed on rats this week. READ  

Eurostar to start London-Marseille direct train
Eurostar is going to start direct train service from London to Marseilles. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Eurostar to start London-Marseille direct train

Getting from London to France's sunny Mediterranean coast is about to get a lot easier because Eurostar has announced it'll start direct service to Marseille next year. READ  

No new criminal probe against Sarkozy
Ex-French President Nicolas Sarkozy is the subject of yet another criminal probe. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

No new criminal probe against Sarkozy

Media reports on Tuesday claimed yet another criminal investigation had been launched against ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy, surrounding funding for 2007 presidential campaign, but the newspaper that first published the story has since admitted it's not true. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Why are the days of going topless in France coming to an end?
Travel
Reckless or adventurous? US dad takes his two children up Mont Blanc
National
From manure to money: Ten bizarre facts about the French Parliament
Culture
Tourists picnic with rats in Louvre gardens
International
Is France really Europe's biggest public spenders?
National
Could your job in France soon be done by a robot?
National
Why you should think twice about feeding stray cats in France
National
And the new redrawn map of France will look like...?
Politics
Is French President François Hollande about to tie the knot?
International
Want a long-term visa? You may soon have to take a French test
International
Votes for foreigners: 'France would be giving up its sovereignty'
National
VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto a moving Paris metro... and survives
Gallery
Forget 'faire l'amour', here's 15 top French expressions for making love
National
Report - 'Anti-Semitic' riots in France: 'We may leave for Israel'
National
Paris Plages: Here's 10 reasons to head down to the city beach
International
'Mont Blanc is like Disneyland. It's time to end the free-for-all'
Travel
Fancy climbing Mont Blanc? Here's 10 reasons to think twice about it
Gallery
Looking for a weird museum in Paris? Here's 10 that are worth a visit
National
Clear your head: Eight tips for buying wine in a French supermarket
National
'Don't blame the labour market for France's unemployment woes!'
National
Job applicants in France: Be prepared to send in an anonymous CV
Sport
'Bouligans' to booze bans: Ten things you need to know about pétanque
Gallery
Driving in France: How to stay out of trouble on the roads
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se