EU must halt discrimination against Roma in Italy

EU must halt discrimination against Roma in Italy
(Brussels, 29 November 2011) Amnesty International has called on the European Union to take immediate action to ensure Italy halts discrimination against its Romani population and provides redress for all those affected by widespread human rights violations committed under state-of-emergency decrees. The call follows a ruling by Italy’s Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, declaring unlawful the 2008 state-of-emergency decree on ‘nomad settlements’. 
Amnesty International’s report, Zero tolerance for Roma: Forced evictions and discrimination against Roma in Milan, issued today, describes how under the ‘nomad emergency’ the authorities have been able to close down Romani camps in Milan in breach of laws protecting human rights. 
The Commission has passively observed Italy set up a groundless ‘state of emergency’, which has allowed it to target an ethnic minority and maintain it for three-and-a-half years”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “Despite many calls by NGOs, the Commission has failed to protect the rights of people who were forcibly evicted or suffered other discrimination. Now that the Council of State has made its ruling, the Commission should wake up and ensure all discriminatory regulation is lifted and ensure everyone affected has adequate access to remedies.
The EU’s Racial Equality Directive protects people against discrimination on ethnic grounds when they need public services including housing. According to international human rights standards, evictions violate the human right to housing unless specific procedural standards are observed. The ‘nomad emergency’ allowed the authorities to unleash a wave of forced evictions from camps in Milan which made hundreds of Roma families homeless. These evictions were carried out without any proper procedure and with no offer of adequate alternative housing. The consequences for Roma families have been devastating, particularly for hundreds of children whose schooling has been disrupted. 
The emergency decree referred to nomadic settlements but actually targeted Roma communities, the vast majority of whom are not nomadic but are often regarded as such by the Italian authorities and public opinion. On 16 November, the Italian Council of State declared the ‘nomad emergency’ unlawful. The Italian Government has yet to announce how it intends to comply with this judgment.
For interviews or further comment, please contact:-
Peter Clarke
Media & Communications Officer
European Institutions Office, Amnesty International
Tel: +32 (0)2 548 2773
Download PDF attachement