Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Officially Sanctioned: Racism And Xenophobia In Italy

On 6 February the Italian Senate approved a new emergency decree known as the “security package”, a series of discriminatory and persecutory measures that will affect the Roma people, immigrants and the homeless. The new legislation calls for ethnic profiling under the guise of the registration of all people with no fixed address, encourages doctors to report “illegal” immigrants and allows for civilian 'anti-foreigner security' patrols (i.e. officially sanctioned vigilantes) to work along side the police.

According to Everyone, an international minority groups rights organisation, “Italy is an ongoing political and media campaign to criminalise the Roma people and agree a large number of brutal evictions, intimidation, expulsions of fact and law entire families, and judicial abuses.” [badly translated from Italian]

"What is more, the security package also authorises the presence of “Padane” patrols. Like the Arrowed Cross in Hungary, the Brownshirts in Germany and the Blackshirts in Italy, we are talking about voluntary militia legally authorised to work alongside the police force in the operations of hunting out and reporting people who are considered a security problem. Even before they were authorized, the Padana patrols were the protagonists of violent actions against the Roma people and immigrants, including the arson attack on the Roma settlement in Opera (Milan) in 2007."

Even the Civil Liberties Committee of Parliament, who visited Italy last September to investigate the situation of Roma and immigrants there, has recognised the incipient fascism of the Italian regime. In a highly critical 23-page report just approved by the group they found that:

  • "there has been a rise in acts of xenophobia and racism, some of which involving unprecedented violence."
  • the planned new "Security Package" and "Emergency Orders" were overly complex and difficult to understand. Their communication to the general public and the media seems to have been simplified and incorrect, creating some grey areas that are open to exploitation by political opportunists. Some areas of the legislation were also not compliant with current EC law.
  • "the over reactive role of the media and of the political discourse seem more heating than calming the existing tensions in the Italian society."
It also detailed many of the racist attacks on the migrant and Roma communities in the past few years and was highly critical of the Italian detention regime.

Meanwhile, the situation in the detention camps on Lampedusa have not improved, with ten Tunisian refugees awaiting deportation there attempting suicide in recent days.

EveryOne has an excellent website featuring up-to-date reports on the situation in Italy and elsewhere.

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