The new Italian government and municipal authorities in Rome must act urgently to end discriminatory policies which deny Roma communities access to social housing, Amnesty International says.
In a letter to local authorities in the capital, Amnesty, along with human rights groups Associazione 21 Luglio, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF), said new policies on housing breach international and EU law and represent a new low in discrimination against the Roma. The groups will also call on the new national government to act immediately to end this discrimination.
Social housing in Rome is allocated through a points-based system. In the last few weeks Roma families who live in formal camps in capital have been told a change of policy means they cannot receive the points they need to access social housing, as they are already living in ‘permanent structures’. Scores of families had already filed their applications for housing and many more were about to do so, when news of the new guidance emerged.
Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:
“Roma people are discriminated against throughout Europe and this latest move represents a new low.
“It is shocking that authorities in Rome have brought in policies that prohibit Roma people from having equal access to social housing. The local authorities and new government must take action to end this discrimination as a matter of urgency.”
Formal camps house many of the Italian capital’s Roma population. They are separated from the rest of the city by main roads and high perimeter fences. The camps are often located a long way from essential services, such as hospitals and schools, and living conditions are often poor. The distance from the city centre makes it difficult for adults to find work. Almost all camps are monitored by cameras and guards.
Life in informal camps is even worse, with people having to put up with unhygienic conditions and little access to water, sanitation and electricity. They are often forcibly evicted from their homes.
The segregation of Roma communities from the rest of the city’s population means that integration and social inclusion are impossible.