European Commission against Racism and Intolerance Publishes Report on Italy
10 July 2002
On April 23, 2002, the Council of Europe's European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) made public its second report on Italy. The ECRI report contains concerns and recommendations, particularly regarding the Romani population: "[…] About one third of the total Roma/Gypsy population of Italy […] currently lives in authorised or unauthorised camps separated from mainstream Italian society. […] ECRI is concerned that this situation of practical segregation of Roma/Gypsies in Italy appears to reflect a general approach of the Italian authorities which tend to consider Roma/Gypsies as nomads and wanting to live in camps. […] The living conditions in camps inhabited by Roma/Gypsy families are extremely harsh, due to the lack of basic infrastructure and facilities, including access to energy, heating and lighting, sanitation as well as washing facilities and refuse disposal, site drainage and emergency services. […] ECRI expresses deep concern at this situation. […] The Italian authorities should implement measures to overcome the practical segregation of Roma/Gypsy communities in the field of housing in Italy, including through abandoning the systematic relegation of members of the Roma/Gypsy communities to camps for nomads. […] ECRI encourages the Italian authorities to devote urgent attention to the question of Roma/Gypsies' access to residence permits and citizenship. […] It [ECRI] strongly encourages the authorities to strengthen their efforts to ensure that all Roma/Gypsy children benefit fully from compulsory schooling and to take measures to facilitate the participation of Roma/Gypsy students at further levels of education. […] Lack of education and training impact negatively on employment possibilities for members of the Roma/Gypsy communities. […] ECRI strongly urges the Italian authorities to introduce initiatives aimed at facilitating access of Roma/Gypsies to the labour market. […] Infant mortality rates are significantly higher within these communities as are certain pathologies amongst adults. ECRI strongly urges the Italian authorities to take initiatives to facilitate Roma/Gypsy access to health care in practice. […] The behaviour of some law enforcement officials vis-a-vis members of the Roma/Gypsy communities living in Italy is also a cause for serious concern to ECRI. There have been numerous reports of evictions of Roma/Gypsy families from unauthorised camps, usually carried out late at night or early in the morning, during which law enforcement officials have acted in a violent and abusive way. Alleged misconduct includes abusive use of firearms, ill-treatment, humiliating treatment, arbitrary destruction of property and confiscation or destruction of papers. […] ECRI expresses deep concern at these reports. […] ECRI strongly urges the Italian authorities thoroughly to investigate all alleged cases of misbehaviour on the part of the police and to bring to justice those officers found responsible. […] ECRI also expresses concern at reports of group expulsions of Roma/Gypsies from Italy and strongly urges the Italian authorities to investigate such reports. […] ECRI furthermore notes with concern reports of unequal treatment of Roma/Gypsies by the Italian judicial authorities, including reports of comparatively more frequent use of pre-trial detention measures and heavier sentences inflicted upon members of the Roma/Gypsy communities. There have also been reports that placement of Roma/Gypsy children in state custody is not uncommon and that such placement is applied more readily to Roma/Gypsy children than to non-Roma/Gypsy children in comparable circumstances. […] ECRI strongly encourages the Italian authorities to undertake in-depth research on these issues and to take any necessary corrective action, notably through awareness raising and training measures for judges. […] ECRI regrets to note that such widespread societal prejudice against Roma/Gypsies is exploited and corroborated by inflammatory statements made by politicians against Roma/Gypsies. […]" ( Full text of the ECRI report ).