France The Constitutional Council censors an agreement on expulsion of Romanian minors

November 4, 2010

1916_snapshot_lemonde_docdetails
Newspaper Le Monde
Country France
Type Daily
Rubric Policy
External link

Comment: The French daily newspaper ‘Le Monde’ published on the 4th of November 2010 an article on the recent decision of the French Constitutional Council declaring that the law ratifying the bilateral agreement between France and Romania on the repatriation of Romanian separated children was not complying with the Constitution of 1958.

The decision reports ‘Le Monde’ was based on the Declaration of Human and Citizen Rights of 1789, more specifically on its article 16 that, by extension, guarantees the right to an effective remedy.

The article does however not put into perspective the decision of the Constitutional Council and the recent events that shed the light on the controversial French policy to return Romanian and Bulgarian citizens of Roma origin to their homeland. The attention of the French Parliament towards this agreement surprisingly grew in parallel of the sudden interest of the French government on Roma settlements.

The bilateral agreement at stake was signed in 2007 by authorities of both countries in Bucharest and immediately ratified by the Romanian party. However, ratification by the French Parliament was postponed by the Senate due to the lack of procedural guarantees that the new proposal would offer to Romanian children. The same reason led the Council to declare the law, and consequently the agreement, unconstitutional: the withdrawal from the procedure of a truly independent judge, the judge for minors, while extending the power of the prosecutor in the return procedure violated the article 16 of the Declaration of Human and Citizens Rights.

As noted by ‘Le Monde’, the agreement (replacing a former one of 2002 that guaranteed cases of Romanian minors to be referred to the judge for minors without delay) was opposed by NGOs which saw violations not only of the constitution but also of national child protection law and regulations as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The French right-wing majority voted the text, while the socialists preferred to abstain. In this context, noteworthy is the decision of the French Parliament to ratify an international convention which clearly breaches one of the most basic rights guaranteed in the French constitution and erected as the pedestal of the French republican values since 1789.

Fortunately, the Constitutional Council has been able to fulfil its mandate and protect one of the fundamental values of every democratic society, while preserving children from unfair procedures that would not allow their views to be taken into account and not guaranteeing the principle of the best interests of the child to be upheld.

To read the article in French, click here.

To read the full decision of the Constitutional Council in French, click here.

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Comments: Pierre Cazenave, Regional Child Rights Officer, Terre des Hommes – Child Relief.

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