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European body slams Italy’s treatment of Roma

In a landmark decision, Italy was found to have violated the rights of its Roma population by the Council of Europe’s European Committee of Social Rights.

The Committee found Italy in violation of the prohibition on discrimination and violations of the rights of Roma people to adequate housing; social, legal and economic protection; protection against poverty and social exclusion; and the right of migrant Roma families to protection and assistance.

The Committee said that Roma camps have been destroyed and their inhabitants illegally evicted and expelled from Italy, often without notice and without the option of alternative housing.

Many camps in various regions throughout Italy have also been the target of arson or vandalism based on racial hatred.

The perpetrators of these crimes are rarely prosecuted or even investigated by local authorities.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe announced the ruling in the case brought against Italy by the Geneva-based international human rights organization the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) and the Italian organization OsservAzione. The organizations accused Italy of violations of the Revised European Social Charter.

The ground-breaking decision in Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) v. Italy  finds Italy guilty of policies and practices that have left Roma residents living in segregated and grossly inadequate housing conditions.

The mass expulsion of non-Italian Roma who are citizens of other EU countries has increased dramatically in Italy since following the formation of a new national government in 2008.

“This decision will reverberate throughout Europe, as it establishes new jurisprudence confirming that the mass expulsion of migrants is a violation of the Revised European Social Charter,” said Bret Thiele, COHRE’s Senior Expert for Litigation and Legal Advocacy.

“This is very relevant to the current situation of Roma in France, and the French government needs to take serious note of this as the recent evictions and deportations of Roma in France place the government in violation of the European Social Charter too.”

The Italian delegation to the meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council reacted to the ruling, pledging to the Committee to “ensure the effective implementation of the rights deriving from the Revised European Social Charter for every individual, including for persons belonging to the Roma communities.”

Salih Booker, COHRE’s Executive Director, said that “COHRE and its Italy-based partner, OsservAzione, will continue to monitor the housing rights situation of Roma in Italy to ensure that the Italian authorities live up to this commitment.”

For interviews, please contact:

  • Bret Thiele, Senior Expert for Litigation and Legal Advocacy, COHRE - tel: +
  • Salih Booker, Executive Director of COHRE – tel: +41 22 734 1028
  • Daria Storia, Lawyer, OsservAzione, tel. +39 349 57 36 433


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