Fighting racial discrimination in housing

14 October, 2015

Hearing on fighting racial discrimination in housing: Forced evictions against Roma.

Barbara Spinelli’s speech (Italian version)

The National Roma Integration Strategies provided for by the Commission have been never really promoted in Italy. Italy is the only European Country that has created an “institutionalised system” of Roma and Sinti camps managed by public authorities. It is financially supported by its citizens, but clientelism, corruption and illicit business are endemic and have worsened an already extremely serious situation. In the famous wiretapping that led to the inquiry commonly known as “Mafia Capitale”, Salvatore Buzzi, head of “Cooperativa 29 giugno” – the enterprise which is at the core of the scandal – stated: «We got revenues for 40 million euro and we made all these money and profits from gypsies, housing crisis and migrants; all the other economic sectors end up in balanced budgets»

In 2014 only, the Italian government has allocated 1.315.000 euros to the Municipality of Rome for policies which actually foster a system turning Roma and Sinti people into scapegoats while taking advantage of their segregation.

In addition to that, we are witnessing a policy of forced evictions – carried out by both right-wing and left-wing City Councils – used as electoral strategy in view of local elections.

Less than a month ago, local authorities evicted the Bigattiera Roma camp in Pisa, without providing for any alternative housing facilities: I tried to block it with the support of NGOs, but didn’t succeed. The mayor of Pisa is a leftist politician. Another eviction was organized last Christmas but, at that time, we were able to block it by turning to the Prefect. Similarly on March 18, 2015, we have been able to impede the eviction of the Roma camps of Lungo Stura Lazio, in Turin, and Torre del Lago Puccini, in Viareggio.

The Jubilee is imminent. The rate of forced eviction of Roma families in Rome has increased impressively: 7 evictions in the two and a half months preceding the notice of the Jubilee, 64 evictions in the 7 months following that notice.

The Jubilee could be the very opportunity to demand the adoption of social security and inclusion policies, as prescribed by the United Nations and the European Union, as part of a wider project developed by local communities.

The Union should promote a holistic approach to social inclusion that goes beyond the current non-binding recommendations to the Member States and is founded on article 21 of the EU Charter of fundamental rights, under which any discrimination based on ethnic or social origin or membership to a national minority is forbidden.