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Italy court overrules 'racial hatred' convictions of anti-Roma group

[JURIST] The Italian Court of Cassation [official website] Monday overturned the convictions of six Italians, including Verona Mayor Flavio Tosi, for distributing anti-Roma literature in 2001. The court found that the men were motivated by a belief that all Roma are thieves, but held that this motivation did not amount to "racial hatred" under existing Italian anti-discrimination laws. The decision is expected to draw anger from human rights groups and Roma advocates [European Roma Rights Centre website]. It was speculated that the release of the ruling, which was handed down in March, was timed to bolster recent government plans to fingerprint [JURIST report] the nation's entire Roma population. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni [OECD profile] said that the fingerprinting would help to reduce street begging and keep children in school, but opponents immediately criticized it as a method of "ethnic screening." The Guardian 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 rejected [JURIST report] 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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