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The statement of ERIO concerning the aggressive racial attacks against Roma people in Italy
20-05-2008 - Press release

Firemen hose down a camp used by Roma people that was set on fire in the outskirts of Naples, Wednesday, May 14, 2008 (Photo: CTK/AP) The European Roma Information Office ERIO express its deep concern on the aggressive racial attacks against Roma people in Italy by members of the Italian society and on the passive position held by the Italian authorities. ERIO asks the Italian government to take urgent measures to stop Anti-Roma attacks and ensure security and protection to Roma communities.

The latest violent cases against Roma carried out by non-state individuals as well as by police forces are clear signs of an organized anti-Roma action in Italy.

On May 11 the Roma camp in via Novara, in Milan was put on fire with several Molotov cocktails bottles thrown by extremist groups.

On May 13 anti-Roma riots exploded in the Ponticelli area in Naples, and several hundred Roma had to flee from 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-months old baby from its Italian parents.

Firemen hose down a camp used by Roma people that was set on fire in the outskirts of Naples, Wednesday, May 14, 2008 (Photo: CTK/AP) On May 12 and 13 a large scale arbitrary arrests of more than 400 Roma, that were registered and fingerprinted and obviously prepared for deportation, took place in Florence.

All these events and other incidents in different regions of Italy which took place last week are results of a long time tension between local Italians and Roma people, fostered by anti-Roma statements from high level politicians and State representatives. Italian decision makers and right wing extremist try to justify their anti-Roma attitude by an individual case transformed in collective responsibility.

Therefore, the European Roma Information Office calls the Italian government to take urgent measures to stop Anti-Roma attacks and ensure security and protection to Roma communities.

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

Roma community in Italy is mainly made up by European citizens. Therefore they should enjoy the same rights and protection against discrimination like other European citizens residing in Italy.

So, while designing its immigration regulations, Italian government has to make sure that this legislation is in conformity with: the European Directive 2004/38 against discrimination, the Race Equality Directive 2000/43 EC , the EU Migration Package which will be adopted soon and other European human rights documents subscribed by Italy. 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 urgently to 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 ask 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’ 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 the today initiative of the European Parliament to debate on the situation of Roma in Italy and other EU countries.

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

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