• 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

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
Scandal forces another Hollande minister to quit
Kader Arif was a junior minister for veteran affairs. Photo: Alain Jocard/Pool/AFP

Scandal forces another Hollande minister to quit

A junior French minister resigned on Friday as a scandal implicating him in the awarding of lucrative public contracts to members of his family hit President François Hollande's Socialist government with another bruising. READ  

France gets a new map, but what's the point?
France is to get a new map, but what is the point of it all? Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

France gets a new map, but what's the point?

After a long and passionate debate about reducing the number of France's regions, the National Assembly finally voted for a new map with 13 regions this week. But after all the fuss, what's the point of the reform and is there any point to France's regions? READ  

North Korean student feared kidnapped in Paris
Paris prosecutors are investigating the disappearance of a North Korean student linked to political rivals of leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: AFP

North Korean student feared kidnapped in Paris

Paris prosecutors are investigating the disappearance of a North Korean student linked to political rivals of dictator Kim Jong-un, a judicial source said Friday. READ  

HSBC Private Bank hit by fraud charges in Paris
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

HSBC Private Bank hit by fraud charges in Paris

UPDATED: HSBC Private Bank, the Swiss subsidiary of British banking group HSBC, said on Friday it had been placed under formal investigation as part of a French tax fraud probe. READ  

French mag spills beans on Hollande-Gayet fling
Hollande and Gayet chatting on a terrace of the Elysée Palace. Photo: Voici

French mag spills beans on Hollande-Gayet fling

The romance between the France’s president and a younger actress no longer appears to be the country’s worst kept secret with a gossip magazine publishing on Friday the first photos of the lovebirds inside the Elysée Palace. It also claimed Julie Gayet had become a "quasi first lady" READ  

Holiday camp staff fired for mock jihadist killing
The photos were allegedly taken at a holiday camp on the island of Groix. Photo: Jeanne Menj

Holiday camp staff fired for mock jihadist killing

Four entertainers working at a holiday camp for children in north-western France, have been suspended from their posts and reported to police after they photographed themselves re-enacting a jihadist execution. READ  

French and Swiss set for Davis Cup final clash
France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Switzerland's Roger Federer embrace before the action begins on Friday. Photo: AFP/Philippe Huguen

French and Swiss set for Davis Cup final clash

France take on Switzerland and the mighty Roger Federer in the Davis Cup final on Friday hoping that home support will help propel them to a famous victory. READ  

What to do with France's returning jihadists?
What should France do with returning jihadists, including these three, who called Muslims to attack France?

What to do with France's returning jihadists?

From banishing them to a notorious island in the Atlantic Ocean to re-integrating them into society, French politicians are battling to come up with the best solution for the hundreds of jihadists returning to France from the Middle East. READ  

Football
Six charged in French match-fixing probe
François Gery, lawyer of the president of French L1 football club Caen Jean-Francois Fortin, answers journalists' questions at a Paris Courthouse on November 20th. Photo: Matthieu Alexandre/AFP

Six charged in French match-fixing probe

Six people, including the presidents of Ligue 1 side Caen and Ligue 2 Nimes, were charged on Thursday in connection with a match-fixing inquiry that has rocked French football. READ  

Eurostar: Passengers blocked for eight hours
Journeys from hell: Eight hours stuck on a Eurostar...File photo: Eurostar

Eurostar: Passengers blocked for eight hours

Hundreds of Eurostar passengers endured a nightmare journey across the Channel on Thursday night after a power cut left them stranded on board their trains for almost eight hours. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Win your Christmas list: €250 at Marks & Spencer
National
Would background music make the RER in Paris feel safer?
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles from British Airways
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Winter is coming to the French Alps
National
Trierweiler to break her silence... in the UK
Gallery
Don't confuse France with Paris: Here's ten reasons why
Sponsored Article
Live like a local - anywhere in the world
National
From the homeless to migrants: A portrait of modern France in ten stats
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Culture
Are you brainy enough to be Miss France? Take the quiz
Gallery
France's most notorious celebrities. How many do you know?
Society
City of Love? Seven Paris myths debunked
Education
Why is France worst in the EU at English?
National
C'est pas possible! Paris is 'world's cheapest city for young people'
National
Looking to save space? France allows toilets in kitchens for first time
National
Find out how women in France are getting stung for a hidden tax
Culture
Which one is your favourite? The top 10 heartiest French winter dishes
Face Of The Week
Nabilla - 'France's Kim Kardashian' held for attempted murder
National
So who's scaring everyone by flying drones over France’s nuclear plants?
Education
Whoever thinks French was a dying language should read this
Politics
OPINION: 'One day France will be grateful to François Hollande'
Gallery
IN IMAGES: A history of France's most controversial architecture
National
How to make an 8-square-metre Paris apartment perfectly liveable
Gallery
VIDEO: France's raunchiest TV ads, including that infamous Perrier one
National
Five reasons why you should work a ski season in France and five not to
National
10 art exhibitions not to miss this autumn in Paris
Culture
What's on in France: 11 things to do this November
National
How French have you become? Take our quiz to find out
National
10 things to never say to a French person
National
Top 10: When French translations go wrong
National
Parisian bars that serve drinkers free meals
National
France falls to Germans in nude swim tourney
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Society
Macholand: The online uprising against sexism in France
Gallery
In pictures: The daily life of the 2,000 migrants in Calais
Culture
Erotic promo video earns the Musée d'Orsay our "Only in France" award
National
Seven reasons why everyone should work in a bar in France
National
The cost of expat home comforts: How France compares to Europe
International
Why don't Calais migrants stay in France? The Local went to find out
National
What are the pros and cons of working as an au pair in France?
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

485
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists
Click here for the full job description