MINELRES: Fwd: Leading NGOs call on European Commission to clarify its position on Italian Roma policies and to make the response public

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sun Sep 14 10:40:13 2008

Original sender: Roma Virtual Network <romale@zahav.net.il>

Amnesty International
European Roma Rights Center
European Roma Infomation Office
European Network Against Racism
Open Society Institute
SPOLU International Foundation
Minority Rights Group International
European Roma Grassroots Organisation
Roma Education Fund
Fondacion Secretariado Gitano

Leading NGOs call on European Commission to clarify its position on Italian 
Roma policies and to make the response public 

(Brussels, 9 September) The European Commission’s position regarding the 
Italian government’s recent policies in relation to Roma needs to be 
clarified, says the EU Roma Policy Coalition (ERPC).*

The Coalition is concerned by the comments of Commissioner Barrot’s 
spokesperson – so far the only public response to the Maroni report.

The Commission appears to have taken the narrowest possible view, accepting 
a “softened” version of the measures initially implemented by the Italian 
government. These same measures had been severely criticized as discriminatory 
and violating human rights law by the Council of Europe, civil society and 
indeed the Commission itself.

The Coalition is worried that such an approach sends a dangerous signal, 
particularly in Italy where anti-Roma speech and action have already reached 
unacceptable levels such as the burning of camps by vigilante mobs. This 
reality appears to be absent from the Commission’s current interpretation 
according to which, a census of Roma community is acceptable as an ultimate 
solution – even though a census carried out on the basis of ethnicity is 
necessarily a discriminatory practice.

In the name of transparency, it is in the Commission’s interest to provide 
adequate explanations about its conclusions and to render all relevant 
documents public.

As the Commission prepares to host a summit designed to debate Roma exclusion 
in Europe, it is crucial that there are no misunderstandings of where it 
stands in regard to the basic rights of Roma living in Europe.

The Coalition therefore calls on the Commission to:

- Fully disclose the report and explanation on which the assessment is based;

- Clarify if the response to Maroni’s report implies a “green light” to the 
action and measures being implemented, namely forced evictions, attacks on 
Roma camps and derogatory or racist declarations by officials;

- Address Roma issues based on social inclusion policies, not on security 

* The EU Roma Policy Coalition (Coalition) is an informal gathering of NGOs 
operating at EU level in the broader areas of human rights, anti-
discrimination, anti-racism, social inclusion and Roma and Travellers rights.

Current members of the ERPC are: Amnesty International, European Roma Rights 
Centre, European Roma Information Office, European Network Against Racism, 
Open Society Institute, Spolu Int. Foundation, Minority Rights Group 
International, European Roma Grassroots Organisation, Roma Education Fund and 
Fundacion Secretariado Gitano

For further information:

David Mark - ERPC Coordinator,
E-mail: david.mark@romapolicy.eu
or david.mark@osi-eu.org
Tell: 0032-(0)2-502 46 46
Gsm: 0032-473 -186 061

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