"The situation of Roma and refugees in Italy is a long-standing concern. Local authorities, including in Rome, have an important role to play in improving the living conditions of these people," said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a letter addressed to the Mayor of Rome, Mr Ignazio Marino.
The letter draws the Mayor's attention to two concerns raised in the Commissioner's report on Italy published in September 2012, namely the segregation of Roma and Sinti on the one hand, and the living conditions and integration of beneficiaries of international or humanitarian protection on the other.
"I have been following with attention the housing situation of Roma and Sinti in Italy, including Rome, in order to monitor progress towards the discontinuation of policies of forced evictions and segregated camps for Roma and Sinti. Difficulties in accessing social housing for Roma living in formal camps were reported to me. I call on Rome's authorities to ensure the possibility for Roma and Sinti living in these camps to have access to social housing on an equal footing with the rest of the population."
Noting with concern the forced eviction in September 2013 of Roma families from the informal camp of Salviati and their relocation to the formal camp of Castel Romano against their will, the Commissioner expresses his concerns about the reported lack of genuine consultation with the inhabitants, despite their appeal for dialogue with the municipality. "International standards on the right to adequate housing, which establish that evictions should only take place as a last resort and following appropriate procedural safeguards, including genuine consultation, might have not been properly upheld. It is time that forced evictions and segregated camps be relegated to the past and ordinary housing solutions be found for Roma and Sinti."
Furthermore, the Commissioner remains deeply concerned about the situation of refugees and beneficiaries of international or humanitarian protection, many of whom face abject destitution. Referring in particular to those living in the so-called ‘Selam Palace', which he visited in July 2012, the Commissioner welcomes that the Mayor of Rome has personally visited the building and that the situation concerning residence registration has improved considerably. "Nonetheless, there are reports that the number of people living in the building has increased to around 1250 persons and that the sanitary conditions have further deteriorated. I hope that adequate solutions will be found in close consultation with the people concerned."
The Commissioner underlined in his letter that the integration of refugees and other beneficiaries of protection required urgent action from the Italian government, as well as regional and municipal authorities.
Read the Commissioner's letter in Italian
The response of the Municipal Counselor for Social Affairs of the City of Rome is available here. (in Italian)