Since 2007, Romani communities and settlements in Italy have been subjected to ongoing discrimination.
The Italian authorities have taken several disproportionate and discriminatory “security” measures singling out de facto the Roma minority and have embarked on a recent initiative to collect fingerprints from all residents, both adults and children, of Romani settlements in the country.
These measures are often accompanied by strong anti-Roma rhetoric from local and national politicians and the vilification of Romani people in the local and national media. The ongoing fear-mongering and stigmatization have created a climate in which attacks on individuals are becoming increasingly acceptable. Romani people have been victims of several mob attacks by members of the public, in which individuals were physically and verbally attacked and settlements were set on fire.
On 11 May 2008, Molotov cocktails were thrown into a Roma settlement in Novara, near Milan by members of the public.
On 13 May 2008, after the arrest of a teenage Romani girl caught inside an apartment allegedly trying to kidnap a six-month-old baby, a crowd of angry people in the suburbs of Ponticelli in Naples took to the streets chasing Roma out of three settlements. Molotov cocktails were thrown into the settlements which were largely destroyed by fire and more than 500 Roma, half of whom were children, had to flee the settlements. The image above is of the ruins of Roma settlement Ponticelli.
Similar attacks took place in June and July 2008.
In light of these events, Amnesty International calls on the Italian authorities to refrain from engaging in stigmatizing speeches against Roma persons, and to take all the necessary measures to provide protection to the Roma community and pursue their active inclusion in society.
The organization calls for the authorities to stop attacks against the Roma community by non-state actors and to ensure that all attacks on Roma camps are thoroughly investigated and that perpetrators are brought to justice.
The authorities should also ensure that attacks on Roma camps are not condoned by politicians, whether at local or national level.
Write to the Minister of Interior to express your disapproval!