15 July 2008
The Special Rapporteur on racism, Mr. Doudou Diene; the Independent Expert on minority issues, Ms. Gay J. McDougall; and the Special Rapporteur on the Human rights of Migrants, Mr. Jorge Bustamante released the following statement today:
“We express our serious concern about recent actions, declarations and proposed measures targeting the Roma community and migrants in Italy.
We are extremely concerned about the proposal made by the Ministry of Interior to fingerprint all Roma individuals, including children, in order to identify those undocumented persons living in Italy. By exclusively targeting the Roma minority, this proposal can be unambiguously classified as discriminatory.
We are also dismayed at the aggressive and discriminatory rhetoric used by political leaders, including Cabinet members, when referring to the Roma community. By explicitly associating the Roma to criminality, and by calling for the immediate dismantling of Roma camps in the country, these officials have created an overall environment of hostility, antagonism and stigmatization of the Roma community among the general public. This climate of anti-Roma sentiment has served to mobilize extremist groups, which have recently launched a series of attacks against Roma camps and individuals.
We call upon the Italian Government to fully uphold its obligations under international human rights law, particularly under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination and the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.”
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance was established in 1993 by the Commission on Human Rights and extended by the Human Rights Council in its resolutions 5/1 and 7/34. Mr. Doudou Diène (Senegal) is the second Special Rapporteur to hold the mandate. Mr. Diène visited Italy in 2006 and issued a report to the Human Rights Council highlighting the problem of discrimination against Roma, particularly in terms of dramatic socio-economic marginalization. He recommended that Italy recognize the Roma and Sinti as national minorities and adopt a comprehensive national policy towards these communities. For more information, the report is accessible at the following address: http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/9242325.html
The mandate of the Independent Expert on minority issues was established in July 2005 by the Commission on Human Rights with a mandate to promote implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. The mandate was extended by the Human Rights Council in March 2008 for a further three years. The mandate holder is Ms. Gay J. McDougall (United States).
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants was established in 1999 by the Commission on Human Rights to examine ways and means to overcome the obstacles existing to the full and effective protection of the human rights of migrants, including obstacles and difficulties for the return of migrants who are undocumented or in an irregular situation. The mandate was extended by the Human Rights Council in June 2008 for a further three years. The Mandate holder is Mr. Jorge Bustamante (Mexico).