The Italian authorities will be urged to end systematic housing discrimination against Roma across the country on Saturday 22 September, when thousands of Amnesty International supporters across the world take part in a Global Day of Action.
Activists from Bermuda to Poland, from Iceland to Mali, will demand that Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti, acts swiftly to stop the ongoing human rights violations suffered by Roma, including forced evictions and segregation.
"Back in February Mario Monti’s government promised the European Union that it would stop segregation and promote access to adequate housing for Roma. More than six months have passed and nothing has been done to fulfil such promises," said David Diaz-Jogeix, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Programme.
Published earlier this month, the Amnesty International briefing On the edge: Roma, forced evictions and segregation in Italy highlights the fact that, despite Italy’s highest administrative court ruling 10 months ago that emergency laws known as the “Nomad Emergency” were unlawful, thousands of Roma continue to suffer violations of their right to adequate housing.
Having to live in squalid camps with little or no access to services such as water, sanitation and electricity is a reality for many Roma. Yet, instead of supporting the individuals and families who have a right to decent living conditions, Italian authorities are forcibly evicting them, without any proper consultation and often at such short notice that they are unable to collect their belongings.
Families are often evicted without any offer of adequate alternative accommodation, leaving many of them at risk of homelessness.
In other cases, Romani families are moved into ethnically segregated camps for Roma only built by authorities. Isolated from everyone else, surrounded by fences and cameras, these families experience great difficulty accessing a range of essential services such as schools, shops and health care.
Amnesty International has launched a petition calling on Prime Minister Monti to stop and prohibit forced evictions and to promote desegregation in Italy. Activists have already started collecting signatures both online and at public events. At a recent festival in Ireland 7,000 signatures were collected. Sign the petition here.
The Global Day of Action on Italy is part of a wider, long-term campaign of activities to promote the right to adequate housing of people living in poverty across the globe.
On 6 September, Jeremiah Makori, an activist who lives in the informal settlement of Deep Sea in Nairobi, Kenya, visited the Tor de' Cenci camp, on the outskirts of Rome, where Roma are at risk of imminent forced eviction.
“I had never known that there could be slums in Europe, or in any 'developed' country", he said after the visit. "There were many similarities between my community and theirs: we have no security of tenure, and they lack it too. They lack access to services, like sanitation and piped water, as we do.”
An estimated billion people live in informal settlements or slums. The multiple and widespread human rights violations, including forced evictions, that many of them experience in all regions of the world are one of the starkest representations of the link between poverty and human rights.
Every year in cities around the world, hundreds of thousands of families are thrown out of their homes without human rights safeguards. Forced evictions are unlawful under international and regional human rights law and no one should be subject to them no matter who they are or where they live.