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Italy plan to fingerprint Roma discriminatory: rights groups

[JURIST] A proposal by the Italian government [JURIST news archive] to fingerprint the country’s Roma minority drew fierce criticism from the human rights community and Roma advocates [European Roma Rights Centre website] on Friday. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni [OECD profile] announced plans on Thursday to fingerprint thousands of Roma children, saying that the process would help to reduce street begging and keep children in school. The plan would also involve fingerprinting all adult Roma, and was immediately criticized by officials as a method of "ethnic screening." Vincenzo Spadafora, head of UNICEF in Italy [official website], said UNICEF was "deeply concerned" by the proposal, commenting that "[i]f this is being brought in to protect the rights of Roma children, Italian children should also be fingerprinted to protect them as well.” Amos Luzzarto, the former president of Italy's Union of Jewish Communities [official website, in Italian], condemned the plan as a form of "ethnic surveying,” stating that “[t]he racism of this initiative is evident and unacceptable.” Reuters has more.

In November 2005, the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) [advocacy website] reported that Roma minorities are the ethnic group most susceptible to racism in the European Union [JURIST report]. Two years later, in November 2007, the European Court of Human Rights ruled [opinion text] rejected the educational separation of Roma children in the Czech Republic, holding that the practice amounted to racial discrimination and violated principles of human rights.

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