Italy: Gypsy relocation plan "violates rights"

Rome, 11 March (AKI) - An Italian plan to clear Roma Gypsy camps and relocate more than 6,000 people was a major violation of their human rights, according to Amnesty International. In a new report released in Rome on Thursday, the rights group attacked the controversial plan which provides for the destruction of 100 camps, claiming would leave 1,000 people homeless.

"These measures urgently need to be rethought," said Ignacio Jovtis, the organisation's Italian expert, in a statement.

"Roma families across the Italian capital now face losing their possessions, their social contracts, their access to work and to state services.

"There is also a risk that if the plan is implemented it could be used as a blueprint for forced evictions in othyer Italian regions.

"Evictions without prior consultation and the offer of adequate alternative accommodation to all of those affected are a violation of their human rights."

In a project dubbed the 'Nomad Plan' around 6,000 Roma, commonly referred to as Gypsies, are expected to be relocated to 13 new or expanded camps on the outskirts of the Italian capital after over 100 camps are demolished.

Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno has been supervising the demolition of the city's camps, including Europe's biggest Gypsy camp, Casalino 900, which was completely levelled by bulldozers last month.

Amnesty said that any forced evictions and relocations would "result in a range of human rights violations" and inhibit the Roma's access to public schools and employment.

"Many Roma live in shacks and caravans lacking basic hygienic conditions," Jovtis said. " The current situation is the result of years of neglect, inadequate policies and discrimination by successive administrations."

Top European rights watchdog The Council of Europe has previously criticised Italy for the living conditions of Italy's Roma and Sinti Gypsies and the "xenophobic" climate of discrimination they and other immigrants face.

There are an estimated 160,000 Roma Gypsies in Italy, nearly half of whom were born in Italy and have Italian citizenship.

Others come from European Union countries such as Romania and the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

The Italian government claims it wants to give those who are in Italy legally better access to schools, medical and social services.

According to Amnesty, between 12,000 and 15,000 Roma live in Rome.


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