Italy: Torino Municipality Shuts off Water Supply near Roma Camp

12 August 2013

Torino, Budapest, 12 August 2013: The European Roma Rights Centre is concerned by reports that municipal authorities in Torino, Italy have cut the water supply of a public fountain providing water for approximately 300 Roma, including children and women. The Roma live in a nearby semiformal camp, Corso Tazzoli. The public fountain, the closest source of safe drinking water for the Roma, has been out of use since 29 July 2013. The ERRC is calling for the tap to be reconnected immediately.

The Municipality cut off the water after several requests and complaints they received from the non-Romani residents in the area, who according to local media reports, claimed that they were uncomfortable seeing a regular line of Roma using the fountain to get drinking water or wash themselves. According to reports, after these complaints, the municipal  police cut the water supply for "public order" reasons.

Italian authorities have been quick to target Roma in the face of public protests. In April this year, a Roma camp in Milan was targeted by protestors, who throw stones at the Roma. Authorities responded with an unplanned mass eviction. In 2011 a whole camp in Torino was destroyed by protestors. A local official attended the demonstration that preceded the violence. In these instances, the ERRC is concerned that authorities responded to anti-Roma protests by targeting the Roma themselves, decisions which are politically motivated and absolutely counter to inclusion and integration. 

The Corso Tazzoli semiformal settlement has been in the area for three years.  Local authorities have not developed any plans to improve the living conditions of the residents of the camp. Local authorities decided to transform the Corso Tazzoli settlement into a transitional area and, as a part of this project, to furnish the camp with "...basic services (public light, toilets and the activation of a few fountains)..." as stated in a Municipal Council Resolution on 23 April 2013.

This transformation would be financed with funds freed up by the cancellation of State of Emergency by the Cassation Court on 22 April 2013. Instead, local authorities have worsened the living conditions for the residents of Corso Tazzoli by cutting off their closest fresh water source, despite their stated decision to improve the camp’s facilities.

The ERRC is deeply concerned by the Torino authorities’ action, and urges them to urgently reconnect the water. The authority must find sustainable solutions for the Roma living in Corso Tazzoli, including reliable access to safe drinking water.

The ERRC reminds the authorities that they have a responsibility under international human rights standards to ensure that individuals can access safe and clean drinking water. Furthermore, Italy also has concrete commitments in its National Strategy for the Inclusion of Roma, Sinti and Caminanti Communities to improve the situation of Roma

Last week a Hungarian local authority cut public water supplies, affecting thousands of Roma. We are deeply concerned by these repeated incidents, and urge public authorities to allow Roma access to safe drinking water and to develop positive, proactive solutions for Roma communities and their inclusion.

For more information, contact:

Sinan Gökçen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre


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