Joint Statement: Italy Should Leave its anti-Roma Emergency Decree in the Past

ROME—The Italian government should abandon any initiative aimed at perpetuating the effects of the past “Nomad Emergency”, Associazione 21 luglio, the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Open Society Justice Initiative said today. The Nomad Emergency, a state of emergency declared in five Italian regions giving local authorities special powers with respect to Roma and Roma settlements, was declared unlawful by the Council of State, the highest administrative court, in November 2011.

The Italian government filed an appeal against this ruling in February 2012 to the Court of Cassation. On May 9, the Council of State suspended the implementation of its November 2011 ruling pending the decision from the Court of Cassation.

“The government should stop its attempts to overturn the Council of State’s November 2011 ruling, which was a step forward toward putting an end to human rights violations suffered by Roma communities where the Nomad Emergency was applied,” the five organizations said. “In the meantime, we hope that the Council of State’s recent order will not give way to further abuse.”

Defining the presence of Roma in Italy as a threat to public security, the Nomad Emergency created powers to conduct censuses in Roma settlements, as well as to close down authorized and informal Roma camps in derogation of laws that protect human rights.

The Nomad Emergency decree of May 2008 has been severely criticized by human rights bodies, including the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Committee for Economic and Social Rights, and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance. The Italian government has previously said that it did not view its renewal as necessary.