Sunday, November 15, 2009



by Caroline Prosser (staff)

Gypsies at Rome's Casilino 900 camp. (Mihai Romanciuc/Flickr, CC Lic.)

Amnesty International has condemned the forced eviction of a community of some 400 Roma people from a former factory in Rome’s Tiburtina district.

The former Heineken factory on Via Gordiani was home to the community, which included 80 children who frequented local schools. According to media and local NGOs, 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 reports, these families are face another forced eviction.

If evicted, they look forward to harsh conditions at another makeshift camp.

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 formalized in this way, the community could not challenge it through the courts, and stop or postpone the eviction.

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 families who were forcibly evicted are provided with adequate alternative accommodation as a matter of urgency, and compensation for all possessions they lost when they were forcibly evicted.

The organization 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.

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