Giving Memory A Future
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An Italian Minority

“This is a racist marking. Categorized, marked out and excluded just as was the case for us Jews. Taking the fingerprints of younger members of any ethnic group means viewing them as congenital thieves, expecting they will break the law and commit crimes. This decision is glaringly, unacceptably racist.”
(Amos Luzzatto, President Emeritus of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities)

The failure to protect the Roma and Sinti minorities in Italy

• The protection of minorities  is among the fundamental principles affirmed in the Italian Constitution (Article 6). Yet in Italy, the Roma and Sinti people are not recognized, neither as an ethnic nor a linguistic minority

• The legal system in Italy is tinged with a juridical anti-Gypsyismwhich underpins the absence of public policies, or even those that are discriminatory in regards to the Roma and Sinti people (legal status). There are no heuristic grounds for not including the Roma and Sinti in national legislation for the protection of minorities (law no. 482 of 1999). This failure seems to be driven by hidden political motives: the law only applies to linguistic minorities residing in certain territorial areas, but not to the Roma and Sinti as they are considered to be nomadic people. 

• A draft bill entitled “Protection and equal opportunities for the Roma and Sinti minorities” was presented to the Italian Parliament by a group of university professors (Bonetti, Simoni, Vitale) in 2010.


The emergency legislation in Italy: ethnic profiling, recording of fingerprints

• May 21, 2008:  The Italian Government issued the Decree on the Nomad Emergency to be applied in the regions of Lazio, Campania and Lombardy (later extended to Piedmont and Veneto). This emergency legislation included extraordinary measures to be implemented on an ethnic basis, such as the taking of fingerprints (even of minors) and a census of all persons living in nomad camps. 

• April 5, 2012:  The European Commission issued a Communication entitled “An EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020”(COM 2011/173) inviting Member States to present their plans for the inclusion of Roma and Sinti people.

• November 16, 2011:  The Italian Council of State (in its ruling no. 6050) declared the government proclaimed state of emergency as illegitimate.

• February 28, 2012:  The Italian Minister for Integration, Andrea Riccardi, launched a “National Strategy for the Inclusion of Roma, Sinti and Travellers into Italian Society.” 


Profile from the census carried out in the camps of Naples in 2008.