Italy
ASGI (Associazione Studi Giuridici sull'Immigrazione) and ENAR (European Network Against Racism) issue press releases on violence against Roma

17 May 2008
ASGI - press release

"ASGI expresses its deep concern and indignation for the very serious episodes of violence against the Roma population that occurred in Naples and other cities.

For too long in our country, Roma people have become, as an ethnic-cultural group, the target for systematic violence and verbal and physical aggression, even in the extremely violent forms that characterise removals from camps where they stay, with the destruction of personal belongings, the open expression of contempt and ill-treatment against people.

In relation to Roma people, the negative stereotypes that a democratic society should progressively overcome have become, on the contrary, a common feeling against which the public authorities no longer appear to erect any obstacles, and which feeds off the political and cultural climate that tolerates, or even incites, racism, violence and exclusion, sometimes explicitly. The dutiful pursuit of specific instances of illegal conduct by individuals cannot, in any way, constitute a pretext for tolerating or justifying such a wave of generalised violence. Precisely as an association of jurists, ASGI intends to forcefully stress that the principle of personal penal responsibility forms the basis of the legal order, and that the the elimination of any form of attribution of characteristics, inclinations or responsibility based on ethnic-cultural membership constitutes the main value of democratic Europe. Today, this pillar of civil co-existence risks being shaken by irresponsible political attitudes, giving rise to unpredictable consequences.

It must be recalled that Italy has repeatedly received heavy criticism in international fora, and particularly by the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination - CERD - for the segregation policy enacted through the so-called "nomads' camps", that is, for the absence of any active policies to counter the discrimination of this population which, it is worth recalling, comprises no more than 200,000 people in all of Italy, of whom a substantial part is made up of Italian citizens.

ASGI asks for a serious commitment by the public authorities and the new executive so as to ensure that immediate measures are employed for the purpose of putting an end to the climate of impunity that surrounds the growing violence and, also through the extraordinary commissioners that have been envisaged, for a national plan for the protection of Roma people to be implemented that also considers the overcoming of the anachronistic formula of camps, in favour of actions for their social inclusion in local communities.

ASGI calls upon all those who care about the protection of fundamental human rights to react to this climate of intolerance by undertaking any kind of initiative that may be useful in order to re-affirm the legal order.",

Unofficial translation by Statewatch - original, in Italian, at :
http://www.asgi.it/index.php?page=nws.home&idint=cn08051700

ENAR press release : Stop to anti-Roma violence in Italy (pdf)


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