/ 19 October 2013

Probe finds France’s deportation of school girl lawful

High school students demonstrate at the Nation square in Paris
High school students demonstrate at the Nation square in Paris, on October 18, 2013, during a protest against the deportation of foreign pupils following the high-profile eviction of a 15-year-old Roma girl. (Getty)

A probe into the high-profile deportation of a Roma schoolgirl, that has landed France's interior minister in hot water, found on Saturday the expulsion was lawful, but added police could have used better judgment.

"The decision to implement the deportation of the Dibrani family (which included 15-year-old Leonarda) was consistent with current regulations," said the probe results, posted on the interior ministry's website.

Dibrani, who had lived in France for four years while her family's asylum bid was processed, was deported earlier this month from the eastern French town of Levier.

The deportation caused a huge outcry in France, sending droves of angry high school students to the streets and placing interior minister Manuel Valls in the midst of hailstorm of criticism.

Much of the anger surrounding the 15-year-old's deportation has focused on how she was forced to get off a bus full of classmates during a school outing before she was deported with the rest of her family to Kosovo.

Police had gone to the family home in the morning to deport all members, but found the teenager had slept at a friend's house to go on the outing.

French law bans any intervention on youngsters while they are at or near school, and the report found that police did not realise "what was at stake with interrupting this outing".

It added that while the bus was nowhere near Dibrani's school, authorities "did not demonstrate the necessary discernment" and recommended that the law be changed to prohibit any such intervention during school hours.

French President Francois Hollande said the 15-year-old Roma schoolgirl would be allowed to come back, but on her own.

"If she makes a request, and if she wants to continue her studies, she will be given a welcome, but only her," he said in televised remarks about the teenager. –AFP