As prejudice and racism against travelling and gypsy people deepens disturbingly across Europe, a leading human rights NGO has spoken out on behalf of Roma in Italy.
Amnesty International has called on the Italian authorities to end discriminatory measures against Roma after the country’s 'Nomad Emergency' decrees were declared unlawful by the country's highest administrative court.
The Italian Council of State has ruled to end the 'Nomad Emergency', which has exposed Roma communities to serious human rights violations since it was introduced three years ago.
"Ending the 'Nomad Emergency' is a step in the right direction - it was unlawful and should have never been declared,” said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.
“The Italian government now has a responsibility to provide effective remedies to all the Roma families who suffered forced evictions and other human rights violations during the 'Nomad Emergency'.”
In May 2008, the Italian government declared a state of emergency around settlements of nomad communities in the regions of Lombardy, Campania and Lazio.
This was supposedly to address a “situation of grave social alarm, with possible repercussions for the local population in terms of public order and security".
The emergency was later extended to the regions of Piedmont and Veneto.
Under the 'Nomad Emergency', government representatives in the regions were given authority to deviate from legislation that protects human rights and forced evictions of Roma communities became more frequent and were carried out with greater impunity.
"The 'Nomad Emergency' has exposed thousands of Roma to human rights abuses and aggravated discrimination against them," declared Nicola Duckworth.
“The new Italian government must now end discriminatory policies and practices that have targeted Roma for years. This is certainly not the end of the story, but may well be a new beginning.”