Italian Police evict almost 400 Romani people from homes they have lived in since 2005, European Commission says it cannot take legal action
During the past week the Italian Police have evicted almost 400 Romani people living in cottages on the outskirts of Rome. They have had to move away from the Camping River campsite, where they have been living since 2005.
The British newspaper The Telegraph has reported that the evictions took place despite the European Court of Human Rights issuing an injunction to stop them. After three camp residents appealed to the court, it asked the Italian authorities on 24 July to suspend their action until 27 July and to outline their plans to rehouse the community, but the authorities proceeded with the eviction nonetheless.
The properties have been leased to them by the city, which has allowed their leases to expire without renewing them. Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi posted to Facebook that the campsite must be closed for public health reasons to protect the Romani children who have been living there.
Some parts of the camp had no electricity or potable water and the children were allegedly not attending school. "It is unacceptable to continue to finance places like this that create ghettos, and above all, where the living conditions don't protect the rights of children, women and men," Ms Raggi wrote in a Facebook post.
Dozens of evicted Romani tenants protested behind the closed gates to their neighborhood and did not want to relocate. They do not want their families to be broken up as a consequence of the eviction from their homes.
The media reports that approximately 100 of the evictees do not have new housing arranged. The camp residents included Romani people from Italy, Kosovo, Romania and Serbia.
The Romani people without Italian citizenship, according to the mayor, will return to their countries of origin. In Italy there are officially 148 Romani camps and many other illegal ones that Romani people have established themselves.
NGOs including Amnesty International have been urging the European Commission since 2012 to take steps against Italy for its violation of the EU's directive on racial equality, given that the situation affects 170 000 Romani people there. The Commission, however, has said it does not see enough evidence of the discrimination against Romani people in Italy to begin legal action.
Camp residents are also blaming Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, the leader of the ultra-right Lega group. Two weeks ago the minister said he supports the idea of conducting a "head count" among members of the Romani minority, a statement that sparked outrage, and not just in Italy.
Salvini argued that such an "inventory" would facilitate the deportation of foreign nationals without valid residence permits. "Romani people with Italian citizenship will unfortunately be allowed to remain in the country," he literally said when introducing the idea.
EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová expressed disagreement with Salvini's declaration. "This is regrettable and absolutely unacceptable," she said, nothing that in 2011 Italy agreed to introduce an extensive EU policy on integrating Romani people.
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