Italian Authorities Evict Another Romani Community

16 December 2004

According to the Verona-based association Cesar K, at 5:45 AM on July 8, 2004, Italian police evicted a community of twelve Bosnian and Romanian Romani families living in Verona. The eviction followed a fire on June 30, which destroyed the Romani homes, after which the Verona Civil Protection Office provided tents for those families left without shelter; the mayor of Verona signed an urgent order to evict the twelve families from their temporary shelter. Cesar K informed the ERRC that the Roma had lived at the site since April 2003 when the Mr Tito Brunelli, the person responsible for political and social affairs in the district, provided municipal land on which the nine Romanian and three Bosnian Romani families could reside. The eviction order was issued without any consideration for the past decisions of municipal authorities to host the families.

At the time of the eviction, only three men with regular residence permits, their wives and minor children and a two-months pregnant woman (under the Italian immigration law, pregnant women and women with children up to the age of 6 months have the right to a health permit that permits her to reside in Italy) were present, according to Cesar K. After seven hours at the police headquarters to verify their documents, the families with residence permits were housed temporarily in apartments owned by the municipality, where they remained as October 22. After an analysis to verify the pregnancy of the Romani women revealed that the baby had died four days earlier, the woman was not offered any support, as it was not deemed necessary by the Social Services. Facing the obligation of trying to regularise her situation at the police headquarters without any assistance from social service workers and risking a deportation order, the Romani woman left the apartment to join her hidden husband. Cesar K noted that the woman lost her child in the days after the fire and before the eviction was executed, in an atmosphere of high tension due to the circumstances.

Cesar K informed the ERRC that the rest of the residents had left the area prior to the eviction and hid for fear of deportation, hoping for the opening of negotiations with the municipality. They reportedly considered the decision of the municipality to evict them to be arbitrary after having offered them the area in the first place. The nine families, comprising thirty-eight people without permits were, as of August 29, hiding in fear and without hope for a solution.

(Cesar K, ERRC)

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