ERRC Collective Complaint against Italy: Systematic Violations of Right to Adequate Housing - European Roma Rights Center Collective Complaint against Italy under the Revised European Social Charter: Systematic Violations of the Fundamental Rights of Roma

21 June 2004

Budapest, Hungary; Strasbourg, France. The European Roma Rights Center today brought a collective complaint under the Revised European Social Charter against Italy for persistent and systematic violations of the fundamental rights of Roma to adequate housing.

The ERRC collective complaint alleges that as a result of the construction and maintenance, by policy and practice, of substandard and racially segregated camps for Roma, as well as in light of policies and practices of forced eviction of Roma, threats of forced eviction of Roma, systemic destruction of property belonging to Roma and the systemic invasion of Romani dwellings without due regard to Italy's international law obligations, Italy is in violation of Article 31 of the Revised European Social Charter (right to adequate housing), taken together with the Revised Charter's Article E ban on discrimination.

By policy, Italian authorities racially segregate Roma. Underpinning the Italian government's approach to Roma and public housing is the conviction that Roma are "nomads". In the late 1980s and early 1990s, ten out of the twenty regions in Italy adopted laws aimed at the "protection of nomadic cultures" through the construction of segregated camps. There has been no effective action at the national or any other level to combat the development of such segregating programs. Segregated Romani housing in Italy is almost invariably substandard and in a number of localities, conditions are so extreme that they constitute a public health risk.

In addition, ERRC human rights documentation and monitoring in Italy, undertaken independently as well as in consultation with partner organisations, indicates that Roma are repeatedly and systematically subjected to forced eviction from housing, in general absent basic procedural guarantees and without alternate accommodation being provided, in violation of international law.

The ERRC collective complaint against Italy also provides the European Committee of Social Rights -- the body charged with the oversight of issues arising under the European Social Charter and Revised Charter -- that where Roma are concerned, Italian authorities do not effectively undertake measures "to prevent and reduce homelessness with a view to its gradual elimination" as required by Article 31(2) of the Revised Charter. The ERRC collective complaint also alleges that the Italian government has undertaken inadequate measures to compensate for the disproportionate exclusion of Roma from social housing, and has not even undertaken measures adequately to document the extent of exclusion of Roma from social housing.

The complaint is the result of close to four years of follow-up work undertaken subsequent to the publication in 2000 of the ERRC Country Report "Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy".

The full text of the ERRC collective complaint against Italy is available on the Internet at: ERRC Collective Complaint against Italy: Systematic Violations of Right to Adequate Housing.

For further information on the ERRC collective complaint against Italy, please contact Tara Bedard, ERRC Researcher, at: tara@errc.org or (36 1) 41 32 200.

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