Romanian Roma Detained on Racist Grounds at Airport in Italy

On January 15, 2002, Mr Alin Gheorghe Valica, a 23-year-old Romani man from Romania, his common-law wife, 22-year-old Mariana Nedelica, and their six-month-old daughter Alexandra Nedelica, were stopped at the Rome airport and detained for four days before being allowed, finally, on January 19, to enter Italy. As of January 1, 2002, Romanian citizens have enjoyed visa-free travel to countries in the European Union, including Italy. Mr Valica and Ms Nedelica reportedly were not only able to show border authorities sufficient pecuniary means for their planned stay in Italy, as well as valid hotel reservations, but also, they had procured visas to Italy while the visa regime was still in effect. Mr Valica subsequently told the ERRC that border officials had told him that the reason for his detention was that Italy "did not want Gypsies". While Mr Valica and his family were still detained, border authorities reportedly also told Mr Claudio Olivieri and Mr Luigi Olivierio, volunteers for the non-governmental organisation Associazione Nazionale Antirazzista e Interetnica "3 Febbraio", and Mr Iancu Selvester, a Romani activist, all of whom were attempting to assist in securing Mr Valica and his family's release from custody, that "the problem was that they are Gypsies." Mr Valica has reportedly been informed by several Italian attorneys that, despite the likelihood that he has suffered blatant racial discrimination, there is probably no legal remedy available to him, and certainly not one accessible without protracted (and expensive) struggle. Information on the situation of Roma in Italy is available on the ERRC's Internet website at: www.errc.org

(3 Febbraio, ERRC)

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