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Title: PR on the Italian crisis - 20/05/08
Posted on: 21 May 2008
Updated on: 17 Sep 2008

PR on the Italian crisis - 20/05/08

May 20th, 2008

Brussels, May 20th 2008 - The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) expresses its deep concern over the aggressive racial attacks against Roma people in Italy by members of Italian society and over the passive position held by the Italian authorities. ERIO asks the Italian government to take urgent action to stop Anti-Roma attacks and ensure security and protection to Roma communities.

The most recent cases of violence against Roma carried out by both non-state individuals and the police forces are clear signs of an organized anti-Roma action in Italy.

On May 11th the Roma camp in Via Novara in Milan was set on fire by extremist groups throwing Molotov cocktails.

On May 13th anti-Roma riots exploded in the Ponticelli area in Naples and several hundred Roma were forced to flee their camps because of the violent attacks from angry local Italian citizens. These attacks were provoked by the alleged attempt of a Romani girl to kidnap a six-month old baby from its Italian parents.

On May 12th and 13th there were large scale arbitrary arrests of more than 400 Roma in Florence. The individuals were subsiquently registered and fingerprinted in obvious preparation for deportation.

These and other events in different regions of Italy last week are the result of long standing tensions between local Italians and the Roma people. Tensions are fueled in part by anti-Roma staements made by high level politicians and state representatives. Italian decision makers and right wing extremist are trying to justify their anti-Roma attitude transforming an individual case into collective responsibility.

ERIO calls on the Italian government to take urgent action to stop anti-Roma attacks and to ensure the security and protection of Roma communities.

Mr. Ivan Ivanov, executive director of ERIO, invites “the Italian police authorities to investigate and take legal action against those responsible for the violent attacks against Roma”.

The Roma community in Italy is predominantly made up of European citizens. They should enjoy the same rights and protection against discrimination as other European citizens residing in Italy.

While designing its immigration regulations, Italian government has to ensure that this legislation is in conformity with: the European Directive 2004/38, the Race Equality Directive 2000/43 EC, the soon to be adopted EU Migration Package and other European human rights documents to which Italy has subscribed. Mr. Ivanov added that “the immigration package which is under elaboration in Italy should not lead to discrimination because the measures taken so far have disproportionate impact on Roma”.

Italian government has to urgently adopt policies for the smooth integration of Roma communities and ensure for them equal access to education, employment, housing, health care and public services. In order to do this, Italy shall use the European funds provided for Roma integration.

European Roma Information Office also asks the European Commission to ensure that the principle of equal treatment is strictly followed by each Member State, to adopt a horizontal approach concerning Roma’s situation in Europe and to propose as soon as possible a specific European Roma policy.

“Europe has to tackle anti-Gypsysm and discrimination in different policy fields – said Mr. Ivanov – including measures for Roma’s integration, to establish effective monitoring in order to ensure full implementation of the anti-discrimination legislation at national level, and to guarantee the respect of human rights and equal treatment of Roma in accordance with the European legislation and basic principles”.

On the other hand, ERIO welcomes today's initiative of the European Parliament to debate on the situation of Roma in Italy and in other EU countries.

ERIO asks MEPs to find concrete proposals for the solution of the crises. ERIO also suggests seting up meetings with representatives of the Italian Parliament to discuss possible legislative measures concerning the living conditions of Roma.

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