MINELRES: Rights Groups Demand European Commission Clarify Its Position on Fingerprinting Roma in Italy
Sun Sep 14 10:38:02 2008
Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <firstname.lastname@example.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.email@example.comUTH,
- Tara Bedard, (ERRC, Budapest), HTUtara.firstname.lastname@example.orgUTH, +36.1.413.2246;
- David Berry, (Open Society Justice Initiative, New York),
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
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