Italian Right Wing Political Party Undertakes Racist Campaign Against Roma Following False Accusations Against Romani Women

22 July 2005

Several Italian media outlets reported a major outcry in the Italian media and among Italian politicians following the liberation of three Romani women accused of attempting to kidnap a non-Romani woman's child. According to Il Manifesto and La Republica, at approximately 11:00 AM on February 4, 2005, two Romani women and one female minor of Romanian origin, approached a non-Romani woman and her baby outside San Nicolo church begging for money. The non-Romani woman felt her baby was threatened and alerted the police. Despite the fact that 'the baby was not actually ever touched' according to Giampiero Serangeli, president of the legal tribunal of Lecco, the police apprehended the two Romani women the same day. The women were later released due to the absence of prior criminal records.

The president of Children Rights Watch (Osservatorio sui Diritti dei Minori), Antonio Marziale called for the immediate expulsion of the two Roma women from the country and the minor to be taken in custody by the social service. A demonstration 'Hands off of our children' was called by the right wing political party Lega Nord and attended by approximately five hundred people. In 2004, the Civil and Penal Court of Verona found six members of Lega Nord guilty of incitement to commit discriminatory acts on the basis of race or ethnicity following a 2001 public campaign entitled "For the Security of the Citizens – Expel the Gypsies from our Home". Several Roma have expressed concern regarding their safety due to possible retaliatory attacks from the recent event. Further information on the situation of Roma in Italy can be found on the ERRC's website at: http://errc.org.

(Il Manifesto, La Republica)

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