Paris: France’s government said on Wednesday that it will investigate the treatment of a 15-year-old girl who was detained by police in front of her fellow students so she could be expelled to Kosovo with her family as illegal immigrants.
Immigrants’ rights groups and even members of the governing Socialist Party are calling the conditions of the expulsion shocking. Such expulsions are a sensitive subject, as European governments champion human rights but grapple with the costs of taking in migrants.
The Dibrani family fled Kosovo about five years ago because they are Roma, or Gypsies, and face discrimination and few opportunities, according to activist Jean-Jacques Boy. Boy works with immigrant families in the Doubs region in eastern France, where the family lived.
The Interior Ministry said on Wednesday that the family’s application for asylum had been rejected, so it no longer had the right to stay in France.
The ministry said the family repeatedly refused to leave, so police detained the father and expelled him to Kosovo on October 8. Police also detained the mother and five of their children, but one of the daughters was away on a school field trip. The ministry says police met the girl’s school bus when it returned from the field trip.
The girl, 15-year-old Leonarda, “was crying, she was upset...She was discouraged” when she got off the bus, Boy said. He said teachers and other children were shaken by the incident.
Leonarda, her siblings and mother were sent to Kosovo on October 9.
The Education Without Frontiers Network said the expulsion was a setback for their efforts to keep illegal immigrants in school and to protect them from police intervention.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls, facing criticism from the education minister and other fellow Socialists, said on Wednesday he is launching an internal investigation into how Leonarda was taken into custody.
Socialist President Francois Hollande’s government has sought to distance itself from tough immigration policies — especially regarding Roma — under his conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.