Italian Courts Must Respect Human Rights in Ruling on Relocation of Roma

07 November 2012

Budapest, Rome, 7 November 2012: The European Roma Rights Centre is calling for Italian courts and authorities to uphold human rights standards when addressing Roma housing in the run up to a crucial hearing on legality of La Barbuta, a segregated camp for Roma built by Rome authorities.

The La Barbuta case, submitted by ASGI and Associazione 21 Luglio challenging the relocation of approximately 650 Romani people to the new settlement from other semi-formal camps in the city, is expected to reach a conclusion after proceedings starting on 9 November before the Court of Rome (II Civil Section). The affected Romani individuals have been living in a state of uncertainly for more than three months as Italian courts have considered the legality of the segregated camp and relocation of the planned residents. The forced relocation of Roma to La Barbuta has already been stopped once (on 4 August 2012) and restarted (on 4 September) by two different court orders. The Court of Rome is now expected to reach a final decision not only on the legitimacy of the relocation of La Barbuta; but also on discrimination and ethnic segregation in similar formal settlements built by Italian authorities.

Rome authorities built La Barbuta, a formal camp or so-called “equipped village”, under a local policy approved within a State of Emergency which came into force in Italy in 2008. The camp is situated in the far outskirts of Rome and sandwiched between Ciampino airport and the Rome ring, a major highway. It does not meet international legal standards regarding housing: it is under constant surveillance by cameras and private guards contracted to city authorities; it is segregated by fences; it offers residents inadequate container housing and it is far away from essential services such as schools, hospitals and public transport.

The State of Emergency, which defined the presence of Roma in Italy as a threat to public security, and the actions resulting from it (including the construction of La Barbuta) were declared to be illegal by the Council of State in November 2011. That decision is currently on appeal. In February 2012 the Italian Government released the “National Strategy for the Inclusion of Roma, Sinti and Caminanti Communities” which it explicitly considers the previous emergency and security approach a failure and aims at more integrated policies towards Roma for the future. The ERRC, which is party to the case on the illegality of the State of Emergency, has consistently called for the Council of State’s decision to mark a new direction for Italy which would bring an end to segregated housing for Roma. The ERRC has already submitted a document to the Court to highlight the crucial importance of this judgment.

The decision in the case of La Barbuta is an opportunity for Italian courts to confirm that human rights legal standards are applicable in Italy and give legal weight to the Government’s recent shift in its approach to Roma policy. The ERRC expects that the Court of Rome and Rome city authorities act in a manner consistent with the most recent legal and policy developments in the country.

Italian version (PDF)

For more information, contact:
Sinan Gökçen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre


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