Gianturco Roma Camp Demolished This Morning

07 April 2017

By Bernard Rorke

On the eve of International Roma Day, in an illegal pre-emptive strike, Italian authorities demolished the Gianturco camp near Naples. This action was designed to see off attempts by NGOs to secure emergency interventions to halt the mass evictions scheduled for 11 April. 

A growing climate of intimidation, threats and harassment in the run up to this action had created unease and fear among camp residents. One Gianturco resident told Amnesty International that the police told them to “get out by 10 April or we’ll chase you away”. Another woman told Amnesty: “I had two surgeries one month ago. Where am I supposed to go? My son is sick as well. He has heart problems, my daughter-in-law has diabetes. We will be left on the street just like dogs.” As a result, many had begun to leave the camp prior to this morning’s evictions. Late last night, as rumours spread of imminent action, camp residents reported that police officers had threatened them with imprisonment if they did not leave by dawn. 

The ERRC and other organizations had prepared Rule 39 requests to the European Court of Human Rights to prevent this action which leaves well over one thousand Roma on the streets with nowhere to go. Many of those whose property and belongings were crushed this morning by bulldozers, include the very young, the very old, the ill and the disabled. 

 (Image: , Amnesty International)

Ðorđe Jovanović, ERRC president described this latest eviction as “inhumane and a blatant violation of Italy’s international human rights obligations.” At the scene, one of the women evicted, Cristina said “Ora sono in strada, che faccio? Dove vado?” (Now I'm in the street, what do I do? Where do I go?) 

Only 180 of the Roma evicted from Gianturco were offered alternative accommodation in 20m2 containers in a new segregated camp at Via Del Riposo. By midday families were already being moved to this camp.

(Image: Rosi Mangiacavallo, ERRC)

The Commission stated that it “is monitoring the situation concerning Roma housing in Italy and is in contact with the Italian authorities on this matter.” This cannot be taken seriously in light of yesterday’s revelations in the Financial Times that despite mounting evidence of anti-Roma discrimination, European leaders have repeatedly blocked any EU action against Italy for its flagrant abuses of the Race Equality Directive (RED). 

Yesterday’s article reported that the European Commission has repeatedly blocked publication of a report on Italy finished back in early 2016. This report recommended sanctions against Italy for mistreatment of its Roma minority. The ERRC, Amnesty International and NGO partners in Italy have on many occasions submitted detailed evidence that points to an unavoidable conclusion: in a climate of anti-Roma discrimination that is systemic and deliberate, Roma are undisputedly denied access to public services by public authorities. Roma face extreme harassment that violates personal dignity and the conditions in segregated camps and emergency shelters constitute what the RED describes as “an intimidating, hostile, and degrading environment.”

Back in February, we published yet another article calling for infringement proceedings to be launched against Italy.  The bottom line was that even large and powerful member states must be sanctioned for failing to meet their commitments on anti-discrimination and respect for fundamental human rights.

The title posed the question: Does the Race Equality Directive apply to Italy or not?  On the evidence of yesterday’s revelations the answer is “clearly not”. And who pays the price for this dereliction of duty by the European Commission in its role as “guardians of the treaties”? Well, for starters ask the many hundreds of Roma who have been bulldozed onto the streets in the wake of the demolition of Gianturco.  





(Image: Rosi Mangiacavallo, ERRC)



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