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Leonarda: “I will not return to France alone. I will not abandon my family.”

Translated Wednesday 23 October 2013, by Harry Cross

After the publication of an inquiry into the expulsion of Leonarda [a school girl deported from France due to immigration law – translator’s note], which concluded in favour of Interior Minister Manuel Valls, François Hollande, in a short television appearance, assured that France was “ready to welcome” the Kosovan schoolgirl if she “wished to continue her education in France…alone.” The French Communist Party (PCF) has denounced a “grave political and moral error” whilst the Left Party has qualified the decision of the head of state as one of “abject cruelty.”

The president has elsewhere indicated that prefects will be ordered to prohibit the arrest of school children whilst they are in schooling. Up until now, only actual school buildings were protected by the law [the girl was arrested during a school trip – translator’s note]. “An order will be given to prefects by the Minister of the Interior to prohibit the arrest of children during schooling, whether in school buildings, school transport, outings or in playgrounds,” specified Mr Hollande.

As for Leonarda, “given the circumstances, if she wishes to continue her education in France and so requests, then we are ready to welcome her”. The president later specified that this concerned “her alone”. Her family would therefore not be allowed to return to France. With regard to the expulsion, “no error has been made, the law has been entirely respected, but there was a lack of discretion in the carrying out of the operation” he added, referring to the conclusions of the administrative enquiry.

“I will not return to France alone. I will not abandon my family. I am not the only one who needs to go to school, there are also my brother and sisters”, said Leonarda, a 15-years-old who was born in Italy. Of her five brothers and sisters, four were born in Italy and the youngest, only 17 months old, was born in France.

Harlem Désir in disagreement with François Hollande: The leader of the socialist party “hopes that the children of Leonarda’s family will be able to finish their studies in France accompanied by their mother”, he declared. “I will discuss it with the president and the government”, he added.

On Twitter, the Left Front MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat reacted to Mr Hollande’s proposal: “Scandalous response from Hollande on Leonarda. This 15 year old can return but alone. Gone the right to live in family.”

The Ecologist senator from Val-de-Marne, Esther Benbassa also reacted to the “machiavelian” solution of the president: “Well done #Hollande for this Machiavellian solution: #Leonarda 15-years old has to choose between school in France and family in Kosovo. Humane!

“And Khatchik?” [another deported school pupil - translator’s note] asks Ian Brossat the president of the Left Front in Paris: “And Khatchik the young student from #Paris18, does the president plan to act or doesn’t he care?”

In a press release the spokesman of the PCF Olivier Dartigolles has described “the attack on republican values which has been accompanied today by the unacceptable breach of the International Convention on the Rights of Child of which France is a signature”. He concluded “President Hollande can, in opposition to tensions and stigmatisation call on a republican reawakening. More than a missed opportunity, this is a grave political and moral error”.

For the Left Party, the decision by François Hollande is one of “abject cruelty” according to a press release by its national secretary Danielle Simonnet: “The young schoolgirl was called on the President of the Republic to choose between living with her family (5 brothers and sisters, and her parents) or to return to France alone to continue her schooling. It is abject cruelty.”

Manuel Valls cleared in report

This morning, after a speedy return from the Antilles, Interior Minister Manuel Valls learnt of the conclusions of the inquiry into the deportation of the schoolgirl Leonarda, arrested on the 9th of October in Doubs by the border police during a school outing. In the report of the General Inspection of Administration which has been released online it can be read that “It is clear all actions taken – the refusal of a visa on the basis of 2012 guidelines and the decision to remove the Dibrani family were in conformity with the law in place”.

Nevertheless, the circumstances of Leonarda’s arrest in the middle of a school trip were criticised by the report. “Focused on the objective of getting the family together and bringing the young girl to her mother, the attentions of the police were not sensitive to the fact that Leonarda Dibrani was on a bus in a school outing,” explained the report. “They were not sufficiently careful with regard to the significance of interrupting this outing,” nor did they “evaluate the possible consequences” and in this regard “did not display sufficient discretion”, confirmed the IGA, whilst assuring that the prefecture of Doubs has not been confronted with this question.

The reaction of Nordine Idir, general secretary of the Mouvement of Young Communists in France: “A deportation “justified by the law”?! Then the law has to be changed. We’ll abandon nothing! #Leonarda #Katchik”

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