follow us

Hundreds of Roma to be forcibly evicted as EU leaders' refusal to sanction Italy exposed

Forcibly evicting families without providing adequate alternative housing or support is a callous act which violates Italy’s international human rights obligations. It is typical of the systemic discrimination against Roma in Italy which the European Commission is failing in its duty to combat.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PRESS RELEASE

6 April 2017

Hundreds of Roma to be forcibly evicted as EU leaders' refusal to sanction Italy exposed

·         Infringement proceedings against Italy blocked at the highest level of the European Commission

·         Amnesty International spokespeople on the ground and available for interview

As European leaders were today revealed to have blocked action against Italy for discrimination against the Roma, Amnesty International warned that the imminent forced eviction of Romani residents from Gianturco informal settlement in Naples, will render hundreds, including children, elderly, sick and disabled, homeless.

The evictions of more than 1,000 people are due to take place without consultation, notice, or alternative housing being provided and are symptomatic of systemic discrimination against Roma in Italy. They come as the Financial Times reveals today that attempts to start infringement proceedings against Italy were blocked at the highest level.

“As the bulldozers are poised to move in, hundreds of Roma people in Gianturco are set lose not just their homes but their livelihoods,” said Catrinel Motoc, Amnesty International’s Regional Campaigner.

“Forcibly evicting families without providing adequate alternative housing or support is a callous act which violates Italy’s international human rights obligations. It is typical of the systemic discrimination against Roma in Italy which the European Commission is failing in its duty to combat."

Up to 1300 people have been living in the settlement. Many of those expected to be forcibly evicted have been living there for up to six years. They have been told repeatedly throughout the last year that they would be moved but were not informed where they would be moved to or when.

Although around 200 people have now been told that they will be relocated to a new ethnically segregated container camp, hundreds of others still do not know where they will go.

One Gianturco resident told Amnesty International that last week the police told them to “get out by 10 April or we’ll chase you away”. Another woman told Amnesty International: “I had two surgeries one month ago. Where am I supposed to go? My son is sick as well. He has heart problems, my daughter-in-law has diabetes. We will be left on the street just like dogs.”

In recent months, Gianturco inhabitants have reported police harassment, including frequent checks and searches. This harassment has resulted in the seizure of food, cars, scooters, carts and trolleys the families use to transport recyclable materials collected from across town. The community’s livelihood has been significantly affected after the authorities shut down an informal market of second-hand goods in the square of the settlement.

The forced eviction and the relocation of some residents to an ethnically segregated camp highlight the Italian authorities’ failure to respect human rights for Roma people and implement a so-called inclusion strategy adopted more than five years ago.

They also highlight the consequences of the European Commission’s failure to take action against repeated violations of European Union anti-discrimination law. Despite having opened a preliminary case against Italy for discrimination against Roma almost five years ago, the EC is yet to begin infringement procedures. The Financial Times has today revealed that this is being blocked at the very highest levels. In that time, thousands of Roma have suffered forced evictions and other violations of their right to access to housing.

“The Gianturco eviction is merely the latest in a long and shameful list of forced evictions of Roma across Italy. Every direction they turn, Romani people in Italy face the most virulent forms of discrimination,” said Catrinel Motoc.

“The European Commission is fully aware of the widespread segregation and injustice suffered by Roma in Italy. Today’s revelation shows that after five years of utter inaction, the barriers to action lie right at the top. The Commission must stop dragging its feet and open infringement procedures against Italy for breaching EU anti-discrimination law.”

For more information or to arrange an interview contact Alison Abrahams in Brussels on aabrahams@amnesty.eu +32 2 548 27 73 or +32 483 680 812 or Stefan Simanowitz in London on stefan.simanowitz@amnesty.org +44 2030365599

Background

There are an estimated 170,000 Roma in Italy, around 40,000 of them living in undignified conditions in camps. Across the country, thousands of Roma still face prejudice, segregation in substandard camps, forced evictions and discrimination in access to adequate housing, violating both international and EU law.