Anti-Romani Actions in Italy

07 November 2002

Anti-Romani sentiment remains strong throughout Italy. Italy maintains a segregated system of official "camps" for Roma designed to keep Roma separated from mainstream Italian society. These are frequently raided by police and other authorities, and abuses in the course of such raids are often reported. On October 7, 2002, the Italian national daily newspaper La Stampa reported that an "anti-nomad" unit had been organised to "guarantee order and security" in Milan. Roma are commonly referred to as "nomads" in Italy. The unit will reportedly be financed by municipal funds until December 2002, following the recommendation of Milan City Council member Mr Giulio Gallera. Mr Gallera was quoted as stating that the unit was a response to complaints of "raids from groups of zingari (Gypsies)" known for "their troublesome and often delinquent conduct" by citizens living near the city cemetery. An elderly Italian woman at the cemetery was quoted in the article as stating that after only a week, the cemetery was free of "undesirables."

In other news, on the evening of August 27, 2002, Mr Alija Memed, a 36-year-old Romani man, testified to the ERRC that at around 6:00 AM that same morning, thirty state police, military police and municipal police raided camp Tor de Cenci and camp Lombroso on the southern periphery of Rome. Mr Memed testified that two police vans waited outside the camps during the police search. Following the raid, Mr Memed reported that twelve Roma from camp Tor de Cenci and ten Roma from camp Lombroso, all without visas, were taken to the nearby Tor de Cenci Police Station. One of the detained Roma, a pregnant Romani woman, was reportedly released shortly thereafter. Five Romani minors from camp Lombroso and three adults from camp Tor de Cenci were released at around 1:00 PM. Another ten Roma were reportedly released throughout the afternoon before 3:00 PM. Three others were held in custody until approximately 8:00 PM for what police called "routine checks", according to Mr Memed. None of the detained Roma were served expulsion notices. According to Mr Memed, "the detained Roma were all activists, mostly from the organisation Šutka. Other Roma from the same two camps were without visas, however, they were not taken to the police station. One of the police officers who came to the camp asked me why I was always talking about my rights. They kept asking us why we wanted to make trouble and asked us many things about our lives."

On August 11, 2002, the Parma-based daily newspaper Gazzetta di Parma reported that, earlier the same day, municipal police dismantled a Romani camp in Parma in northern Italy. At around 9:30 AM, bulldozers entered the camp, which was allegedly unsuitable for living, and began the operation. Roma from the camp were reported in Gazzetta di Parma as having stated that the camp was infested with rats and mosquitoes and that they were ready to be moved to a new camp that had been promised to them by city officials ten years earlier. On November 8, 2002, Mr Massimo Albieri, Chief of the Parma Immigration Office at the time camp Via Tangenziale was dismantled, stated to the ERRC that eighteen Roma from the camp were moved to camp Cornocchio, also in Parma. One family of six was reportedly expelled to Bosnia and Herzegovina by police following the dismantling, because they did not have residence permits and some allegedly had committed crimes in Italy. Mr Albiery told the ERRC that a family of six was reportedly staying in Turin in northwestern Italy, because the wife was appealing an expulsion notice she was served following the eviction. As of November 8, 2002, the whereabouts of ten other Roma who had been living in the dismantled camp was unknown, Mr Albieri reported.

On July 4, 2002, the Milan-based daily newspaper Il Giorno reported that, on July 2, 2002, in the town of Monza, in central Italy, approximately sixty Roma were removed, along with their campers, vans and cars from camp via Carrá by municipal police and military police. According to Il Giorno, the remaining ten Roma were expelled from the camp early in the morning on July 4, 2002.

On July 3, 2002, the Florence daily newspaper La Nazione reported that around three hundred Romani refugees from Kosovo were to be removed from the Romani camp Masini, on the periphery of Florence, by the police. According to La Nazione, approximately thirty of the families were to be moved to the Poderaccio camp where the municipal government had set up prefabricated housing units. The daily reported that Roma without legal status were to be expelled. On July 5, 2002, Mr Paolo Palmerini of the Italian non-governmental organisation National Committee for Refugees (CNR) informed the ERRC that the dismantling of camp Masini had begun earlier that day. On August 2, 2002, the ERRC received information from Mr Piero Colacicchi of the Association for the Protection of Minorities that, beginning July 5, 2002, ninety Roma were expelled from camp Masini. On the same day and also on July 8, 2002, the police entered camp Masini with bulldozers, which was reportedly guarded by police and military police, and proceeded to destroy huts in the camp.

Mr Colacicchi further informed the ERRC that, "For a whole week, the Roma were left on their own and lived under self-made tents with twenty or so children." One week later, after strong protest by the Roma and NGOs, they were moved to a gymnasium where, as of August 22, 2002, three families comprising twenty-one people remained. On August 22, 2002, Mr Demir Mustafa of the Romani organisation Amalipè Romanò informed the ERRC that the rest of the families had been placed in economy hotels around Florence with the assistance of the city. As of September 19, 2002, approximately one hundred and sixty Roma reportedly remained at the Masini camp. On October 25, 2002, Amalipè Romanò informed the ERRC that two families faced expulsion because they did not have residency permits.

On July 2, 2002, the Bologna-based daily newspaper Il Resto di Carlino reported that at sunrise in Ancona, a central Italian town on the Adriatic Coast, municipal police removed Roma in their campers with municipal towing machines, as a final step in dismantling their camp on the town's periphery.

On July 1, 2002, Il Giorno reported that, on June 30, 2002, following a raid at camp via Triboniano, seventy Romanian Roma were taken to the Milan Central Police Station for identity checks which resulted in six Roma being served expulsion notices. According to Il Giorno of July 4, 2002, Ms Laura Molteni, Municipal Commissioner for Nomad Affairs in Milan, stated that of the two thousand one hundred and twenty Roma in Milan, one thousand and fifty are accommodated in the seven state authorised camps around the city.

On June 2, 2002, Il Giorno reported that five hundred residents of the Prati Nuovi neighbourhood in Milan signed a petition circulated by District President Mr Adelio Ratto, against the relocation of a "nomad camp" to the area. On October 24, 2002, a representative of Milan City Hall informed the ERRC that the aforementioned proposal was not official, but that Mr Albertini, the Mayor of Milan, and a city council member had asked mayors in the surrounding towns to build "nomad camps" on their territories to "help take the load off Milan." Further, Mr Albertini reportedly recently proposed to Mr T.K. Colli, President of the Lombardy Province, to establish a "Commission for the Nomad Emergency" to assist co-operation between the municipalities near Milan in formulating a plan on "nomads." According to the representative, "the intention of the Milan municipality is to dismantle all the camps situated in Milan, giving housing to nomads or putting them elsewhere, outside the city."

Il Nuovo reported on May 27, 2002, that, on May 26, 2002, in front of the Milan City Hall, around fifty Romani men, women and children were involved in a protest for housing. According to Il Nuovo, the Roma were removed from the Barzaghi camp in November 2001 when it was dismantled, but had not been provided with alternative housing (for further information on the dismantling of the Barzaghi camp, see: Continued Expulsions and Dismantling of Romani Camps in Italy ). Field investigation conducted by the ERRC revealed that as of October 24, 2002, about one hundred Roma who were not provided with accommodation following the dismantling of Barzaghi camp appeared to have returned to the site of the former camp and were living without any shelter, sanitary facilities or electricity.

Deeply rooted racism against Roma and other immigrant groups in Italy leads to their near total segregation from the majority society, often in state authorised camps with substandard living conditions. Recently a number of abusive expulsions of Roma from Italy – including collective expulsions – have been reported. Further information on the situation of Roma living in state authorised camps in Italy, as well as information on anti-Romani sentiment in Italy is available on the ERRC's Internet website at:

(Amalipè Romanò, Association for the Protection of Minorities, ERRC, Gazzetta di Parma, Il Giorno, National Committee for Refugees, La Nazione, Il Nuovo, La Repubblica, Il Resto di Carlino, Šutka, La Stampa)


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