Italy begins dismantling Roma camps after rape sparks ethnic tensions

[JURIST] Italian authorities Monday began dismantling illegal immigrant camps around Rome heavily populated by members of the Roma minority ("gypsies") [JURIST news archive] following the alleged weekend rape of a 14-year old girl by East European immigrants which led to public outcry and vigilante reprisals. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni [official profile, in Italian] meanwhile proposed an emergency decree which would authorize local bodies to create groups of unarmed citizens to "assist the police by bringing to their attention events which might be damaging to urban security." Italy's left-wing opposition parties have already voiced disapproval of the move, and the Vatican has warned against scapegoating.

In July 2008, the Italian government began recording the fingerprints [JURIST report] of thousands of Roma, including children, ostensibly to reduce street crime and begging. Later that month, the European Parliament [official website] called on EU member states to repeal all anti-Roma laws and the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights urged Italy to change its "severe" policies [JURIST reports] on Roma people. Italy's Interior Ministry responded by announcing [JURIST report] that the government would revise plans to fingerprint the Roma, altering requirements to only include those who do not have valid identification cards. 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].



 

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