• France's news in English
 
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

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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
The Local List
The top ten tackiest 'Made in France' gifts
You'll find plenty of tacky gifts in French souvenir shops. Photo: Eole Wind/Flickr

The top ten tackiest 'Made in France' gifts

Christmas shopping can be challenging when it comes to finding authentic ‘Made in France’ gifts and there is often a very thin line between tasteful and tacky. The Local has put together a (highly subjective) list of presents we think you shouldn't bring home. READ  

Far-right mayor barred over campaign finances
The court said Fabien Engelmann, mayor of Hayange in eastern France, would be banned for a year from the moment he has exhausted all his appeals. Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP

Far-right mayor barred over campaign finances

A French court on Friday barred a mayor from France's far-right National Front party from practicing politics for a year, citing a "particularly serious infringement" of the country's campaign financing rules. READ  

Truckers lift roadblock near Paris
The action caused several kilometre-long lines on both sides of the roadblock. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Truckers lift roadblock near Paris

French truck drivers on Friday lifted an overnight roadblock of heavy vehicle traffic on the A10 highway that connects Paris with the south-western city of Bordeaux. The truckers staged the action to demand higher minimum pay. READ  

French economy to lift in 2015, but not jobs
France seems to be in for a small economic upswing next year. Photo: Kenteegardin/Flickr

French economy to lift in 2015, but not jobs

In its latest forecast, France's national statistics agency predicts that the French economy will experience a slight boost next year, much thanks to lower oil prices and a weaker euro, but warns it won’t be enough to reverse the country’s soaring unemployment. READ  

French zoo offers 'night at home' with polar bear
Two women look at Taiko, a polar bear playing in its pond, from their lodge in the zoo of the French western city of La Fleche. Photo: Jean-Francois Monier/AFP

French zoo offers 'night at home' with polar bear

Forget trekking to the Arctic. French tourists are opting for the luxury way to spend the night with a polar bear: beside a log fire not far from home. And the only thing on ice is the champagne. READ  

How studying in the UK is different to France
Parisian Priscillia Charles spent a year studying at Newcastle University in the North East of England. Photo: Private

How studying in the UK is different to France

From Freshers week to dressing up, Parisian journalist Priscillia Charles, who recently spent a year studying in the North East of England, points out the main differences between student life on both sides of the Channel. READ  

'French Kim Kardashian' Nabilla leaves jail
Nabilla Benattia (L) awaits trial for the attempted murder of her boyfriend Thomas Vergara (R). Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

'French Kim Kardashian' Nabilla leaves jail

A French reality star often referred to as the Gallic Kim Kardashian was released from jail under legal supervision on Thursday as she awaits trial for the attempted murder of her boyfriend. READ  

French far-right boss sues mag that outed him
Closer's alleged outing of Philippot triggered an outrage in France. Photo: Patrick Kovarik/AFP

French far-right boss sues mag that outed him

Florian Philippot, one of the top members of France’s far-right party the National Front, is suing gossip magazine Closer for outing him as gay, demanding €50,000 in damages for the front-page splash of him and his alleged partner. READ  

Russian Mistral warship sailors leave France
In November France postponed delivery of Mistral ship to Russia "until further notice". Photo: AFP

Russian Mistral warship sailors leave France

Some 400 Russian sailors training to operate the controversial Mistral-class warship built by France for Russia on Thursday left the country as Paris faces increasing international pressure to abandon the disputed sale. France has already delayed the delivery of the vessel, citing the crisis in Ukraine. READ  

Truck drivers to block Paris roads over pay
French truck drivers want their action to 'impact the economy' of Ile-de-France. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Truck drivers to block Paris roads over pay

Enraged French truck drivers were on Thursday set to start blocking some roads and warehouses near Paris as part of a two-day labour action to demand a higher minimum salary. The blockage is likely to disrupt some last-minute Christmas deliveries. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
GALLERY: The French language's fixation with 'les Anglais'
Society
So what does the web tell us about the French in the year 2014
Society
Have the French fallen out of love with Christmas?
National
Immigration in France: Hollande hits back at the scaremongers
Culture
What's on: 10 things to do in France before Christmas
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
National
Muslims rule France in 2022: The bad boy of French literature is back
Gallery
There are so many things that claim to be French but aren't. Here are 12.
National
Crazy cat stories: Moggie returns after 1,200km trek across France
National
Tea sets for boys? French feminists protest 'gendered' Christmas presents
National
Jacques Chirac's 'head' - The perfect place to hide 1.5 kilos of weed
Gallery
Myths debunked: 11 things you (wrongly) presumed about France
National
Prices are tumbling but the property ladder is increasingly out of reach for the French
Education
IN IMAGES: French universities 'in ruin'. The students have the evidence
National
Life's about to get a lot cheaper for Paris commuters. Or is it?
Gallery
Ten dos and don'ts for partying with the French this Christmas
National
Some famous French fine wines are under threat from high speed trains
National
VIDEO: Homeless bodybuilder turns the streets of Paris into his gym
Business & Money
Noble Prize for Economics: Six things to know about Jean Tirole
Culture
Nobel Literature Prize: Ten things to know about Patrick Modiano
Gallery
Looking for a good Christmas market in France? Here's our top 10
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The top 15 new inventions to come out of France
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Gallery
Miss France Farmer: The contest to find a 'real French beauty'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Lyon's spectacular festival of lights dazzles once again
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Ten French Bond girls through the ages
National
Outrage forces French city to scrap yellow triangle ID cards for homeless
Gallery
Who does Christmas better - The French or Anglos? We decide.
National
All you need to know about the new French Bond girl Léa Seydoux
International
'My iPod's broken' - French jihadists moan about lack of home comforts
National
Race you to the top of the Eiffel Tower. No seriously, I'll race you.
National
And what if Mona Lisa was really a slave from China?
Opinion
Why company bosses in France have just about had enough
National
What impact did a 'giant butt plug' in Paris have on sales of sex toys?
Travel
National Geographic's top world destination for 2015 is in France.
Society
French babies switched at birth: Families seek €12 million damages
National
Why are so many French police officers taking their own lives?
Society
Immigration in France: Ten numbers that matter
Sponsored Article
Win a €250 voucher for your Christmas list
National
Sarko is back in the ring: Did he ever really leave it?
National
IN IMAGES: Yet more fatal floods hit the south of France
Gallery
Forget tourism and wine, here are 10 OTHER ways France leads the world
Education
Is Paris really the best place in the world to be a student?
Society
The things gynecologists say that drive French women mad
Sponsored Article
Live like a local - anywhere in the world
National
A pill to make flatulence smell like roses? A Frenchman has cracked it
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
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