• 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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to try to convince Germany to spend again
France and Germany are meeting on Monday to talk about spending. Photo: AFP

France to try to convince Germany to spend again

The French prime minister is to meet on Monday with Germany's chancellor in a bid to advocate for an easing up of budget-cutting policies in favour of pro-growth actions and stimulus spending in the eurozone. READ  

The Local List
Ten French customs that confuse Anglos
What may seem like normal behaviour in your home country doesn't always apply to French culture. Teacher photo: Shutterstock

Ten French customs that confuse Anglos

What may seem like normal behaviour in your home country doesn't always apply to French culture. Whether you’re at the supermarket checkout or the raising your glass at a dinner party, here are ten common customs to watch out for in France. READ  

Air France freezes plan angering striking pilots
Air France announced on Sunday that only 41 percent of flights would be operational on Monday. Photo: AFP

Air France freezes plan angering striking pilots

Air France entered its second week of crippling pilots’ strike on Monday with just 41 percent of flights set to take off as planned. But the airline announced it's freezing the low-cost plan at the heart of the conflict. READ  

Napoleon marriage document draws €437K
Josephine and Napoleon's marriage document went for a whopping sum at auction.

Napoleon marriage document draws €437K

Napoleon and Josephine’s marriage licence fetched a whopping €437,500 at auction on Sunday, one more remarkable happening in one of the world’s greatest love stories. READ  

Sarkozy comeback: 'I don't have a choice'
A TV grab shows former French president Nicolas Sarkozy speaking during France 2 broadcast news in Paris. Photo: France 2/AFP

Sarkozy comeback: 'I don't have a choice'

Nicolas Sarkozy painted a dire portrait of the crisis in France on Sunday as the ex-president capped a high-profile political comeback that has kicked off a battle for supremacy over the country's struggling opposition. READ  

PM slams farmers for torching tax office
An officer of technical and forensic police takes pictures of the partially burned tax center, on September 20, 2014 in Morlaix, western of France. AFP Photo/Fred Tanneau

PM slams farmers for torching tax office

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Saturday vowed to prosecute farmers in Brittany who torched tax and insurance buildings and dumped vegetables in the streets in protest at falling living standards. READ  

London to help France pay for Calais migrants
French police watching illigal immigrants while they wait in line on to receive meals from the "La Belle Etoile" (Pretty Star) association in Calais. AFP Photo/Philippe Huguen

London to help France pay for Calais migrants

Britain has bowed to French pressure to help foot the bill for migrants flooding into the northern port of Calais in a bid to reach Britain, Paris said on Saturday. READ  

Cause of Mali air crash still a mystery: probe
Debris found in the aftermath of the crash of the Air Algerie Flight AH5017. Photo: AFP

Cause of Mali air crash still a mystery: probe

Investigators probing the crash of an Air Algerie flight in Mali that killed 116 people in July said on Saturday there was no obvious lead yet and all possibilities, including terrorism, were being explored. READ  

France plan air lifts to help fight Ebola
Liberian Red Cross health workers, wearing protective suits, carry the body of a 18-old-month baby, victim of the Ebola virus in Monrovia. AFP Photo/Zoom Dosso

France plan air lifts to help fight Ebola

France and Germany will send military transport planes to West Africa to help efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and military officials said on Friday. READ  

Moody's keeps France on negative outlook
Credit ratings agency Moody's said that France till has significant credit strengths. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Moody's keeps France on negative outlook

Moody's maintained its negative rating on France on Friday but -- despite earlier reports -- did not deal the struggling economy a downgrade. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
National
Ten great bars in Paris only locals know about
Society
France's top expat tribes: Which are you?
National
France to set flat-rate for Paris airport taxis
Politics
French separatists want Scots to say 'yes'
National
Anti-dog poo offensive launched in French town
National
Scammers attack Paris's top cop at tourist hotspot
National
French leader didn't pay his rent for three years
National
'WW2 bomb' kills camper on French island
Does France have a racism problem?
National
National
'Enough gloom, France is an amazing country'
Gallery
The top ten tourist traps to avoid in France
Politics
The juiciest bits from Trierweiler's tell-all book
Politics
Trierweiler tells all: 'Hollande wanted me back, at any price'
Education
'Sacre bleu!' Do the French really say that?
Politics
Manuel Valls has plenty in common with Tony Blair, but not background
International
Votes for expats: Plan to end UK's 15-year rule
Gallery
Ten dos and don'ts for keeping your French in-laws happy
National
Unemployment: How does France compare to Europe?
International
Are all the talented professionals really leaving France?
National
La France profonde: Is it a rural idyll or a backwater hell?
Travel
Check out the four new attractions coming to Paris this autumn
Gallery
The French words you can't translate literally
National
Ten things you need to know about France's economics whizzkid
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