Discrimination against Roma in Italy worries UN rights experts

15 July 2008

A trio of independent United Nations human rights experts have voiced concern about recent actions and proposed measures targeting the Roma community and migrants in Italy which they deem as discriminatory.

The Special Rapporteur on racism, Doudou Diene, the Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay J. McDougall, and the Special Rapporteur on the Human rights of Migrants, Jorge Bustamante, said they were extremely concerned about the proposal made by the Ministry of Interior to fingerprint all Roma individuals, including children, in order to identify those undocumented persons living in Italy.

“By exclusively targeting the Roma minority, this proposal can be unambiguously classified as discriminatory,” they said in a statement issued today in Geneva.

They are also shocked at the “aggressive and discriminatory rhetoric” used by political leaders, including Cabinet members, when referring to the Roma community.

“By explicitly associating the Roma to criminality, and by calling for the immediate dismantling of Roma camps in the country, these officials have created an overall environment of hostility, antagonism and stigmatization of the Roma community among the general public,” they stated.

“This climate of anti-Roma sentiment has served to mobilize extremist groups, which have recently launched a series of attacks against Roma camps and individuals,” they added.

The three experts urged the Italian Government to abide by its obligations under international human rights law, particularly under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination and the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.

 

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