Proposed Police State in Romani Camps in Italy

10 July 2002

According to the daily newspaper Il Nuovo of April 30, 2002, on April 29, 2002, a Rome municipal committee met to discuss plans for dismantling camp Salone, the Romani camp on the southern periphery of Rome, and to create five new camps for Roma that will be under the "constant surveillance of police." Il Nuovoalso reported that, beginning in the first week of May 2002,police would review the documents of Roma in the Salone camp and possibly expel from Italy persons illegally in the country. In a telephone interview with the ERRC on May 9, 2002, the consultant for Roma/Salone Affairs at the Rome Immigration Officeconfirmed that zones for the new camps were to be chosen over the following month, and the approximately 1,200 Romani inhabitants of Salone would be either transferred to new sites authorised by the City of Rome or they would be expelled from Italy.

According to Il Nuovo, in the past year, around one hundred Roma living in camp Salone were expelled following "emergency" interventions by Italian police, and a permanent police checkpoint had been installed in late February 2002 to monitor the camp's inhabitants. This number was confirmed by the consultant for Roma/Salone Affairs at the Rome Immigration Office on May 9, 2002. On February 18, 2002, SUTKA, an Italian Roma rights non-governmental organisation, informed the ERRC that an additional fifty Roma had been served expulsion notices during a recent police raid on camp Salone. Many of the expulsion notices were reportedly being contested as of May 21, 2002.

In other news, in an interview with the daily national newspaper, Il Nuovo, entitled "No Homes to the Nomads, but High-Security Camps", Rome city council member Ms Laura Marsilio stated, on Monday, April 29, 2002, that "to give housing to nomads would be a social injustice." Roma are commonly referred to as nomads in Italy. According to the article, Ms Marsilio further stated that Roma should be housed in "isolated container camps with police surveillance" and that Roma have "a culture different from ours. They have to learn to respect the rules. They steal and mistreat minors […] I don't like them. Not because I am racist, but because they don't obey the rules."

Finally, on April 13, 2002, the Treviso-based local daily newspaper La Tribuna di Treviso reported that a sign prohibiting the entrance of "nomads and prostitutes" was posted at the entry to the dead-end street via Della Fornace in the town of Resana, near Treviso in northeastern Italy. According to the article, the street, as well as the sign, are officially private, but the area was being renovated, and after the work was finished, would become public property. Mr Franco Conte, Mayor of Resana, commented to La Tribuna di Treviso that, "This is not discrimination, we are simply trying to avoid the presence of undesirables. The results are positive – nomads [sic] don't stop anymore and the prostitutes have gone elsewhere."

(ERRC, Il Nuovo, La Tribuna di Treviso)

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