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ECRI’s Round Table in Italy

Rome, 3 May 2007


ECRI’s Round Table in Italy is part of a series of national round tables in the member States of the Council of Europe, which are organised by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) in the framework of its Programme of action on relations with civil society.

These national round tables are regularly organised following the publication of ECRI’s country monitoring reports, in which ECRI thoroughly analyses the situation as regards racism and intolerance in each country and makes suggestions and proposals as to how to tackle the problems identified.

The main aim of these round tables is to encourage reflection in the governmental and non-governmental circles concerned, by bringing together all the relevant national actors in this field, including government officials, representatives of national human rights institutions, representatives of local and regional authorities, parliamentarians, victims of discrimination, academics, NGOs etc. The objective is to develop together ideas as to how to solve the problems of racism in the country and to ensure the implementation of ECRI's specific recommendations.

The main themes of ECRI’s Round Table in Italy are: (1) ECRI’s report on Italy; (2) racism and xenophobia in public discourse and in the public sphere; (3) the legislative and institutional framework for combating racism and racial discrimination and (4) problems faced by the Roma community in Italy.

In its third Report on Italy, ECRI acknowledges that in recent years, Italy has made progress in a number of the fields covered in this report. For example, Italy has established a specialised body to combat racial discrimination, which assists victims and raises awareness of this phenomenon among the general public. Furthermore, the anti-discrimination legislation has been applied in some cases in the fields of employment and housing. Finally, ECRI is satisfied that school education on the Holocaust and against antisemitism has been strengthened in Italy.

At the same time ECRI observes that in Italy non-EU citizens, Roma, Sinti and Muslims are particularly the target of prejudice and discrimination across a wide range of areas. In the absence of a national policy to improve the situation of Roma and Sinti and combat the prejudice and discrimination they face, many members of these groups continue to live in a situation of marginalisation and “de facto” segregation from the rest of Italian society. Similarly, members of Muslim communities have experienced a deterioration in their situation, notably due to the generalisations and the associations made in public debate and the media between the members of these communities and terrorism. Finally, changes to immigration legislation have made the situation of many non-EU citizens more precarious, exposing them to a higher risk of human rights violations

All of these issues will be discussed with representatives of the responsible governmental agencies and victims of discrimination in the light of ECRI’s General Policy Recommendation no.7 on national legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination and the existing legislative and institutional framework for combating racism and racial discrimination in Italy. A whole session will be dedicated to analysing the deterioration of the general climate of opinion concerning minority groups in Italy, which has found its most recent expression in racist incidents in football stadiums. Finally, special attention will also be paid to combating racism and racial discrimination against Roma, with a special emphasis on governmental initiatives in this field.

ECRI hopes that an open debate among all relevant actors on these important issues will help to identify together effective ways of better implementing existing initiatives and will also provide the necessary impetus for further reform in Italy.