Paris Police Prefect bans beggary on Champs-Élysées

Main target are often juvenile Romanians used by criminal rings.

The electronic edition of Le Figaro informs that Paris Police Prefect Michel Gaudin has issued a decision outlawing beggary in the main avenue of the French Capital, effective as of yesterday. He described the measure as ‘exception, yet proportional’. The ban is on both actual beggary and ‘associated forms’ such as the presentation of fake petitions to pedestrians for the purpose of raising money. The source notes the ban will be valid for six months, until February 6, also covering the winter holiday season and has as main target the groups of Romanians, most often juveniles, who are under the control of criminal groups and ‘who beg in certain sectors of the French Capital and on public transport’. Violations will be punished by a 38 EUR fine and the authorities will have the right to check identity papers and deport individuals found not to comply with right to stay regulations. According to the French press, the Police Prefect has chosen for now to make this ‘experimental decision for a symbolic spot’ of Paris, with the intention to roll it out to other neighbourhoods such as Sacré-Cœur.

According to Le Figaro, Romanian delinquents caught stealing mobile telephones are from the Counties of Iasi, Neamt, Braila, Buzau and Constanta. Those specialising in cloning credit cards are mainly from Dolj County and Romanians engaged in financial scams are from Bucharest. The forth biggest category of Romanian criminals operating in France is represented by pickpockets, who generally come from Moldavia, but also from places like Baia Mare or Craiova.

The decision made by the Police Prefect follows the position taken by French Interior Minister Claude Guéant on Monday, introducing a plan against that particular form of crime, with special emphasis falling on Romanian delinquents in France. Guéant stressed that 10 per cent of all people brought to justice in Paris are now Romanian nationals and half of them are juveniles. In addition, Romanians account for 2 per cent of general delinquency in France. On that occasion, the minister called for an expedited procedure for the deportation of Romanian offenders to their country of origin.

Some of the French media however rebuke Interior Minister Guéant’s intervention regarding Romanian offenders. The Libération daily, for example, calls it the minister’s ‘fixed idea’. ‘Eight months before the presidential election, the crime-Romanians-immigration triptych is being put back on the agenda, ’continuing to feed the state of confusion’, the newspaper notes.

Replying to Guéant, Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu said a gradual stigmatisation of Romanian nationals cannot be accepted. On RFI he reminded of a letter the Romanian authorities had sent as early as September 24, 2008, where ‘Romania offered to participate in an exchange of liaison magistrates between Bucharest and Paris’. On the same subject of the deportation of unaccompanied minors, he says Romania has adopted the necessary legislation, but France has not, as the decision of the French Parliament was quashed by the Constitutional Council. ‘In the summer, the French reported 400-500 unaccompanied minors without indicating the source of the figure. On the other hand, our checks have shown that Romanian authorities had received 40 deportation requests. Also, data coming from notaries tells us that minors have left the country accompanied either by parents or by legally empowered adults. This situation calls for closer co-operation on the Romanian-French Working Group’, the Romanian official concludes. PSD MEP Rovana Plumb has also written to the French interior minister, warning him about associating crime with the Romanian nationality in his public positions, something she finds ‘unacceptable and profoundly unfair to the Romanian citizens’.

Igas: 99 pc chance for Romania to join Schengen area

The Minister of Administration and Interior, Traian Igas, stated yesterday, in Alba Iulia, that Romania has 99 per cent chance to join the Schengen area, noting that the country meets all requirements. From his point of view, ‘the true problems European countries are having are not created by Romanian citizens’. The minister hopes to be able to personally discuss with the French interior minister as well as with the other ministers to clarify all those aspects at the meeting to take place in Brussels, on September 21/22. ‘I think the real problems in European countries are not created by Romanian citizens. Of course that they are doing us a disservice, they usually stand at junctions, they are more visible than other people from other countries, than other offenders, but the major problems in the European Union are not created by us’, Igas said.  Asked if MAI has a plan of measures to combat crime committed by Romanian nationals in other EU member states, Igas said there were such measures in place and that, every time they acted, the Romanian authorities proved ‘maximum effectiveness’.

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