Thursday

23rd Nov 2017

Italian plans to fingerprint Roma criticised as 'ethnic cataloguing'

  • The last census showed that there are around 80,000 Roma children in Italy (Photo: Amnesty International)

Italy has found itself under heavy criticism for a proposed crack-down on clandestine migration by fingerprinting Roma individuals, including children, with the European Commission admitting such a move would violate EU anti-discrimination rules and respect for fundamental rights.

According to Italian media reports, interior minister Roberto Maroni has announced plans to conduct a census under which all the Roma will be fingerprinted.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"It is a proper census to guarantee that those who have the right to stay can live in decent conditions and to let us send home those who don't have the right to stay in Italy," Mr Maroni said.

The minister - a member of the anti-immigration Northern League, which entered the Silvio Berlusconi's government following elections in April - has rejected accusations of "ethnic cataloguing."

The European Commission, tasked to oversee whether EU legislation is properly applied in member states, was at first reluctant to react to "statements by a politician".

Only when journalists insisted, the commission spokesperson said: "If you what to know an answer to whether it is possible, the answer is implicitly clear, the answer is no".

The spokesperson underlined that Brussels "is as attached to fundamental rights and the fight against discrimination as any other European institution". The question will be put to the Italians "at the very moment when a member state decides to use a legal tool" to fulfil its declarations, he added.

Earlier this week, the plans to fingerprint Italy's Roma community drew comparisons to the policies of Benito Mussolini, the country fascist leader during the second world war.

"I remember when I could not go to school with the others," Amos Luzzatto from Italy's Union of Jewish Communities said, according to the Daily Telegraph.

"There is a latent racism in Italian culture and it manifests itself cyclically," Mr Luzzatto added, stressing that "taking the fingerprints of youngsters from one ethnic group implies that you consider them to be congenital thieves."

UNICEF, the UN organization advocating children rights, has expressed shock and deep concern and called the proposal "provocative".

But despite sharp criticism, Mr Maroni has defended the plan, saying "this is the right path". "The people like UNICEF, who complain, should visit the camps and see the conditions in which children live," he said, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Some 160,000 Roma are estimated to live in Italy. Many live there without official permission and have set up temporary camps. The most recent census recorded 80,000 of them as being minors.

Amid claims of rising crime that the right blames on immigrants, the Italian government has kicked off a legislative process aimed at tightening up the country's immigration policy. For example, it is to be a crime punishable by up to four years in jail to enter the country illegally.

The UN High Commission for Refugees has previously urged Italy to drop its intention to make illegal immigration a criminal offence. It said one in three people who arrive in Italy seek asylum.

Mladic found guilty for Bosnia genocide and war crimes

The former Bosnian Serb warlord was sentenced to life in prison for committing genocide and war crimes in Srebrenica and Sarajevo. Mladic is still regarded as a 'hero' among some Bosnian Serbs, in a country undergoing resurgent nationalism.

MEPs point finger at Malta

The European Parliament debated shady deals and rule of law in Malta after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, while the Commission wanted to avoid a "political fight".

Austrian privacy case against Facebook hits legal snag

Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems may sue Facebook Ireland in an Austrian court but won't be able to pursue a class action suit in Austria, according to a non-binding opinion by a top EU court advisor.

EU Parliament 'cookie' restrictions worry online media

The European Parliament and groups representing newspapers and magazines are at odds over how new privacy rules will affect the media, especially restrictions on website cookies - but one MEP thinks it could spark new business models.

EU Commission to target fake news

Mariya Gabriel, the EU digital economy commissioner, announces expert panel and says fake news can be tackled if people are given credible and diverse information.

MEP switches vote on 'private expenses' transparency

A small group of MEPs are looking into how members of the European Parliament spend the monthly €4,300 'private expenses' funded by taxpayer money. Last month, MEPs voted on transparency amendments on the funds.

News in Brief

  1. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms
  2. EU calls for end to Kenya election crisis
  3. Report: Israeli PM invited to meet EU ministers
  4. French banks close Le Pen accounts
  5. Commission relaxes rules on labelling free range eggs
  6. Commission issues €34m fine over car equipment cartel
  7. Estonian presidency 'delighted' with emissions trading vote
  8. Mladic found guilty of genocide and war crimes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  2. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  3. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  4. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  6. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  7. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  8. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  9. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  10. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  11. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  12. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure

Latest News

  1. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  2. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  3. Commission warns Italy over high debt level
  4. Mladic found guilty for Bosnia genocide and war crimes
  5. Uber may face fines in EU for keeping data breach secret
  6. EU counter-propaganda 'harms' relations, Russia says
  7. The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik
  8. Glyphosate: 1.3 million EU citizens call for ban