Protests at forced eviction of Roma people in Italian capital

Protests at forced eviction of Roma people in Italian capital

By agency reporter
13 Nov 2009

Amid growing concern about the victimisation of travelling people across Europe, human rights activists have condemned the forced eviction of a community of some 400 Roma people in the Italian capital, Rome.

According to local NGOs and media, around 150 police officers evicted the families from the Via Centocelle camp, in the east of the city, on Wednesday morning.

All the community's shelters were destroyed and around 20 Roma men were arrested. It is not known what charges they face.

The municipality offered short-term shelter to some of the Roma women and small children, in the city's dormitories for homeless people.

The majority of those made homeless, numbering some 100 families, have occupied an abandoned privately owned factory nearby. According to the latest media report, these families are facing another forced eviction today (13 November).

If evicted, they face living in harsh conditions at another makeshift camp, or may even be forced to live out in the open.

The community includes around 140 children, 40 of whom attend schools nearby. The eviction threatens to interrupt their schooling and seriously disrupt their education.

Local NGOs say that the community was not notified or consulted about the eviction. Under domestic law, the authorities should notify each individual, or publish an order or notice.

As the order was not formalised in this way, the community could not stop or postpone the eviction by challenging it through the courts.

Most people living in the Via Centocelle camp have previously experienced at least one forced eviction. These involved the destruction of shelters, clothes, mattresses, medicines and documents.

All these evictions are believed to have been carried out without the procedural safeguards required under regional and international human rights standards.

Amnesty International has urged the Rome authorities to ensure that all the forcibly evicted families are provided with adequate alternative accommodation as a matter of urgency and compensated for all possessions lost during the eviction.

The organisation also reminded the authorities that forced evictions, carried out without legal and other protections, are prohibited under international law as a gross violation of a range of human rights: in particular, the right to adequate housing.

For at least the last 10 years, numerous forced evictions of Roma communities have been carried out in Italy.

Keywords: gypsies | italy | roma | rome | travellers
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