MINELRES: Rights Groups Demand European Commission Clarify Its Position on Fingerprinting Roma in Italy

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sun Sep 14 10:38:02 2008

Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>

European Commission Standpoint Fails to Address Discriminatory Nature of 
Fingerprinting in Italy 

Budapest, 9 September 2008: Yesterday, two leading human rights groups asked 
the European Commission (EC) to clarify its position on the mass 
fingerprinting of Roma in Italy.

In a letter to European Commissioner Jacques Barrot, the European Roma Rights 
Centre (ERRC) and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) expressed concern 
that the EC was endorsing Italy’s plan to forcibly fingerprint all Roma living 
in the country. The groups noted that such fingerprinting would be a form of 
discrimination because it targets people based solely on their ethnicity.

According to media reports, the EC approved the fingerprinting plan because 
the Italian government is not seeking “data based on ethnic origin or 
religion.” However, the EC has not disclosed information on how it arrived at 
its controversial decision. 

“We have two concerns arising from the statements of the Commission’s 
spokesperson,” said Savelina Danova, acting executive director of the 
ERRC. “The EC’s reported position endorses discriminatory measures by the 
Italian government, and in reaching its conclusions the EC was not at all 

In their letter, the groups expressed concern that the EC’s endorsement of the 
Italian government’s actions would set a dangerous precedent and would 
stigmatise Roma in Italy, possibly exposing them to gross human rights 
violations. Neither the Italian government’s explanation of the fingerprinting 
measures nor the EC’s legal analysis of whether those measures are compatible 
with EU law have been made public. 

“Singling out a group for increased police scrutiny based only on ethnicity is 
clearly discriminatory and a violation of international human rights law,” 
said James A. Goldston, OSJI executive director. “The question is why the EC 
would support such discrimination.”

The ERRC filed a lawsuit in Italy in July, requesting a declaration on the 
illegality of the emergency measures implemented by the Italian government 
leading to the fingerprinting of Roma, and an end to the practice. 

In their letter, the rights groups called on the EC to make public both the 
Italian authorities’ report explaining the fingerprinting measures, as well as 
the EC’s analysis of the information leading to its endorsement of the plan. 
The groups urged the EC to proceed with a thorough scrutiny of the situation 
of Roma in Italy and take the necessary legal steps to enforce compliance of 
the Italian state with non-discrimination standards contained in EU law.

The full text of the letter is available at: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?

Background information on the situation of Roma in Italy and developments in 
the course of 2007 and 2008 are available at: HTUhttp://www.errc.org/cikk.php?

- Andi Dobrushi, (ERRC, Budapest), HTUandi.dobrushi@errc.orgUTH, 
- Tara Bedard, (ERRC, Budapest), HTUtara.bedard@errc.orgUTH, +36.1.413.2246; 
- David Berry, (Open Society Justice Initiative, New York), 
HTUdberry@justiceinitiative.orgUTH, +1.212.548.0385.

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law 
organisation which monitors the human rights situation of Roma and provides 
legal defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the 
European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at http://www.errc.org 
To support the ERRC, please visit this link: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Tel: +36.1.413.2200
Fax: +36.1.413.2201

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