Italy must curb xenophobic attitudes towards migrant workers – UN rights experts

12 January 2010

In the wake of last week’s unrest in southern Italy, two United Nations independent human rights experts today called on the European nation’s Government to rein in the rising xenophobic attitudes towards migrant workers.

Dozens of people were injured in the three days of clashes that rocked the city of Rosarno. Some 1,000 migrants, most of whom are reportedly from Africa, were moved to migration centres, with authorities moving to deport many of them.

“Violence, be it perpetrated by Italians or migrant workers, must be addressed in the most vigorous manner through the rule of law and human rights should always be protected, regardless of immigration laws,” Jorge Bustamante and Githu Muigai, the UN Special Rapporteurs on the human rights of migrants and on contemporary forms of racism, respectively, said in a joint statement.

They called on the Italian Government to demonstrate their continued and firm commitment to create a safe and peaceful environment for all.

“This includes finding ways to improve the very poor living and working conditions of these migrant workers – [some] of whom are often trafficked into the country for exploitation purposes – and to implement an immigration policy in full conformity with international human rights standards.”

Although Italy’s initial steps towards an inquiry into the unrest are a welcome move, the experts underscored that “it is more than ever urgent” for authorities to bolster their anti-racism efforts, provide human rights education, denounce hate speech and prosecute racist and violent actions.

“Violence cannot and must never be a means to respond to difficulties under any circumstances,” the Special Rapporteurs underscored.


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