Romani Camp Dismantled in Italy
29 October 2003
On February 6, 2003, at 6:00 AM, approximately fifty municipal police, military police (carabinieri) and fire fighters entered the Via Salaria Romani camp in Rome with bulldozers and ordered the approximately three hundred Romani inhabitants to evacuate the premises. Roma from the camp informed the ERRC that it was announced that their shacks and campers would be destroyed and that they were to move to the Via Salone Romani camp at another location in Rome. As the dismantling of the camp was taking place, the ERRC had the opportunity to speak with Mr C.D., a 33-year-old Romanian Romani man living in the camp. Mr C.D. testified that the police entered the camp and began shouting at the inhabitants to leave: "We were ushered out to the street like cattle. At first I thought they would put us straight into the buses [?] but they just pushed us on the road and said, 'Go! Shoo!' like we were flies." At approximately 9:15 AM, a roadblock was set up on the road outside the camp in an attempt to keep the Romani inhabitants from re-entering the camp. Around seventy Roma tried to break through the barrier to get into the camp and gather their belongings but the police pushed them back. The ERRC overheard one officer shout, "Get these dirty animals off of me."
When asked by the ERRC whether the Roma had been notified that the camp was to be destroyed that morning, Mr Luigi di Stefano, Rome's Municipal Police Co-ordinator, stated, "No, of course not." Mr di Stefano additionally stated that the inhabitants had been told many times to leave and that he expected that many of them would be expelled. Mr Giulio Ligozzi, a social service worker present, informed the ERRC that he has not been aware of any municipal programme to support the evicted Roma. When the ERRC left the camp at 1:30 PM, most of the shacks and campers had been destroyed and all of the personal belongings of the Romani inhabitants were scattered throughout the camp.
Related to the precarious situation in which Roma residing in so-called nomadic camps in Italy find themselves, approximately two hundred Roma from the Vicolo Savini Romani camp on the southern periphery of Rome sent a petition to Rome's City Council at the end of January 2003, requesting to be informed of the actions the city government plans to take with regard to the camp. According to the petition, the Roma had been living in the camp for sixteen years. It stated:
"For more than five years we have repeated our concerns for our precarious living situation. We have been told (by local authorities) that we will be given assistance with hygienic-sanitary conditions, but nothing has been done. Since 1999 we have been told that the camp will be dismantled, but without any indication as to when, and without knowing what our fate will be. [?] We know that mayor Veltroni and local council members are engaged in visiting Favelas around the world and fighting for better living conditions for the poor. So we ask, with respect, why not to begin from here? We ask for a resolution of this situation, with transparency and fixed schedules, and ask that it becomes a priority for the mayor and the city council, so that winter 2004 brings a resolution for the little Favelas of Rome."
An abundance of information on housing rights issues faced by Roma in Italy is available on the ERRC's Internet website at: www.errc.org.