Extreme Degradation of Romani Woman by Italian Police

22 July 2005

According to information provided to the ERRC by Lorenzo Monasta, a human rights activist involved in Romani issues in Italy, on April 29, 2005, three Romanian Roma (two women and one man) were stopped and publicly physically and sexually assaulted by police officers in Padua. The Romani individuals were stopped by two state police agents in plainclothes and two carabinieri (military police) in uniform outside the central railway station in Padua under suspicion that the Romani individuals were dealing drugs and were carrying cocaine ovules.

An article published by the newspaper Il Gazzettino di Padova on May 1, 2005, reported that, according to the police one of the Romani women started shouting, taking her clothes off, beating up the agents and throwing herself on the floor. However, eyewitness S.F., who took pictures of the incident denounced the article as false to a local radio station and reported that the agents beat the three Roma as well as strip searched the two women for possession of drugs. Another eyewitness confirmed S.F.'s report and stated that one Romani woman was held by the arms and legs, her skirt pulled up and an internal search for the cocaine ovules was performed by the police. All officers present were male.

According to S.F., the second Romani woman Mrs E.N., was held by the neck by one of the officers in plainclothes who attempted to look inside the shirt of Mrs E.N. Mrs E.N. struggled to break free and fell to the ground half naked as the agent removed her shirt. E.N. suffered bruises to her neck, arms an legs. The one Romani man was ordered to remain by a wall, and was watched by a police officer in uniform. All of these events occurred during the day and were observed by several witnesses at the Padua central railway station.

The three Romani individuals were taken to Padua Police Headquarters, where all but Mrs E.N. were released. Mrs E.N. was taken to the Stanga Police Station and released after twenty four hours. Mrs E.N. was charged with resisting public authority and found guilty on May 12th despite testimonies of several witnesses and the fact that police admitted to finding no drugs on any of the three individuals. An appeal on behalf of Mrs E.N. will be filed upon receipt of the written decision.

(ERRC)

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