Director of ODIHR on arson in Italy that killed Romani children: If this was racism there must be a strong reaction
Michael G. Link, the director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has condemned the murder of three Romani sisters aged four, eight and 20 last week. They died after a Molotov cocktail attack on the caravan in which they were sleeping with their parents and other siblings on 10 May 2017 in Rome, Italy.
"Whoever committed this enormous crime must be brought to trial and I am urgently calling on the relevant authorities in Italy to undertake a thorough investigation, to find the culprits, and to prosecute them to the full extent of the law," the ODIHR director said. "Detectives must review all possible motivations for this attack and if it is determined that it was racially motivated, a clear signal must be sent by the courts and political leaders."
Link praised the public statements already made by the Italian President, the speaker of the lower house of the Italian Parliament, and the Mayor of Rome, all of whom condemned the murders. He also emphasized that it is necessary to improve living conditions and security for Romani people.
The ODIHR director also believes it is necessary to prevent anti-Romani rhetoric being used by politicians to create hatred, which leads to such attacks against Romani people. "All of the participating States of the OSCE have pledged to improve the situation of Roma and Sinti, just as they have pledged to prevent and suppress hate crimes," he said.
"We are disturbed by the repeated reports of incidents of hate targeting the Romani community in Italy. If this inhumane crime was actually motivated by such hatred, the relevant Italian authorities must demonstrate that they will not tolerate this kind of criminal act," Link said.
Valeriu Nicolae, the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) of the Council of Europe on Roma Issues, has also responded to the arson, sending his condolences to the family and calling on the Italian authorities to aid them. "I would like to point out to the local authorities that the situation of the Romani people living in camps near Rome and throughout all of Italy is desperate. Marginalization, poverty and racism expose this vulnerable group to danger and in such situations children are usually most at risk," he said in a statement.
The arson attack was committed on Wednesday, 10 May just before 3:30 AM in a parking lot near the Primavera shopping center. Sisters Angelica, Elisabeth and Francesca were sleeping in the top compartment of the caravan and could not be rescued from the flames.
Their parents and other siblings managed to escape the burning vehicle. Detectives are researching all possible motivations for the attack, from racial motivation to revenge within the Romani community itself.
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