Italian Authorities Must Protect Roma Facing Violence in Pescara
18 May 2012
Budapest, Pescara, 18 May 2012: The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) has asked Italian authorities to protect Romani citizens in Pescara, who are being targeted with threats of vigilante violence.
An Italian Romani man living in Pescara is suspected of murder, following a killing on 1 May 2012. On the night of the murder, an unknown perpetrator threw two petrol bombs at the suspect’s home. On 5 May the funeral of the murder victim was held, and this became a focal point for anti-Roma sentiment. Many of those who attended the funeral shouted death threats and other verbal attacks against Roma, including calls to expel Roma from Pescara. An online petition calling for the “Expulsion of Gypsies from Pescara” was started.
On May 6, thousands of people attended a demonstration against Roma, chanting slogans under a banner saying “Hunt Roma for Five Days”. There have been ongoing threats of violence and intimidation, and local Romani individuals have been scared to leave their homes or visit local shops. Some Romani children have been kept home from school, and in one case a Romani schoolgirl became involved in a fight after being called a ‘thug, like all the Gypsies”.
During a short meeting with local authorities, members of the Romani community were asked to “isolate the criminals”. In the meantime, police have informally warned Roma not to leave their homes because of the threat of violence.
The ERRC is concerned that police and other authorities are not doing enough to ensure that Romani people feel safe. The ERRC therefore called on authorities to deploy an adequate number of police officers, and take all necessary steps to adequately protect Romani individuals from violence in Pescara as a matter of urgency. Authorities should start a dialogue with local Romani activists and NGOs, and involve them in any relevant policies; they should fully investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of all acts of violence and intimidation against Roma and they should denounce any instances of anti-Roma violence and other kinds of hate crimes.
The letter to the authorities is available in English and Italian.
For more information, contact:
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre