REPORT ON THE ROMA IN CAMP "CASILINA 700", ROME, ITALY
Edited by Joe Benham
Who can apply for asylum in Italy?
Any person who has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership to a particular social group or political party, or who flees from crisis situations and massive violations of human rights, has the right to seek protection and asylum in Italy.
What are the rights of asylum seekers?
1- Asylum seekers have access to medical care, in urgent cases, and for maternal and child protection. They do not have access to the National Social Security System.
2- Where possible, asylum seekers may be accommodated in municipality shelters.
3- Asylum seekers can apply to the Questura (police) for contributo di prima assistenza (financial aid). A temporary residence permit, issued after an application for obtaining the status of refugee has been submitted, is required for this kind of aid. The "contributo" is granted only after verifying that applicants have no means of support. This allowance is equivalent to 25,000 Italian lira (U.S. $11-12), per day and is issued for a period of 45 days.
What are asylum seekers not entitled to?
1- Asylum seekers are not entitled to work or to study during the entire determination procedure of their refugee status.
2- Asylum seekers cannot leave Italy until their application for asylum has been examined. They are free to move throughout the country, provided they notify the Questura of their new address, so that they can be contacted at any time. Asylum seekers who enter and stay illegally in neighboring countries are sent back to Italy to await the still pending examination of the asylum application by the Italian government.
What happens if an applicant is not recognized as a refugee?
If an applicant is not given refugee status (deniego) by the Commissione Centrale, he/she may appeal for recourse to the Regional Administrative Court (Tribunale Administrativo Regionale or "TAR") within 30 days of the notification of the decision. Asylum seekers have the right to be assisted by a lawyer. Asylum seekers who wish to take legal action to have their rights protected, are entitled to free legal assistance.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):
UDHR was completed in 1948 by the members of the newly formed United Nations (UN). Its aim was to set basic minimum international standards for the protection of the rights and freedom of individuals. UDHR provisions are considered fundamental and have been quoted often in domestic and international courts, as well as by governments all around the world.
In the case of Camp Casilina 700, however, the Roma are literally robbed of their fundamental human rights. They are subjected, instead, to the big black hole of dysfunctional legal systems notoriously preeminent in Western Europe, which are most notably within those countries of the European Union that make the greatest pretense at following these international laws.
The residents of Casilina 700 are mostly Roma, coming from Romania, Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia, as well as Moroccans (who are not Roma).
What has Europe to do with the plight of these people? Why should European communities help them? These are legitimate questions that should be examined in the light of Western European National support for the following programs:
Imposed sanctions/embargoes on Roma countries of origin:
- For a decade, the former Yugoslavia (Kosovo, Macedonia and Bosnia) has had an embargo imposed on it and has suffered tremendous damages, economically. Tens of thousands of Roma lost their jobs, businesses and homes due to the sanctions. Western Europe unilaterally supported this action against the former Yugoslavia and many Roma were forced to flee, becoming economic refugees.
- Resulting from pressures brought about by the transition to modern capitalism, the economies of formerly communist countries have collapsed and been thrown into turbulence. Thousands of Roma have suffered abuse by their governments, as well as attacks from skinheads and other mobs. Romanian Roma who fled to Italy have ended up in Camp Casilina 700, hoping to find a safe refuge. The Casilina 700 "safe haven" offers only horrible living conditions, accompanied by Italian police brutality and harassment (e.g. the destruction of their important documents, bulldozing of their barracks and trailers, deportation, denial of their political asylum claims, and above all, the denial of their right to be human).
In the end, this is not surprising because most of us forget that we constantly repeat the same history of those "mighty Europeans" who "discovered" and colonized the new continents, while nearly bringing all of the indigenous people there to extinction. Those same "mighty Europeans" brought about the concentration camps, African slavery, the enslavement of Roma, etc..
Western Europe supported and participated in the NATO/US-lead bombings of Kosovo and Serbia in the name of "humanity". Again, thousands of Roma fled from Kosovo into Italy. Once they arrived in Italy, however, what did they get? After losing everything in the former Yugoslavia jobs, homes, family members, country due to the sanctions and NATO intervention, today's Roma fear everyone. All of these destructive, evil forces arose from a so-called civilized society; a society which now places more importance on one piece of paper than on the human person who is entitled to receive it.
Here follows the report of what, VOR president, Sani Rifati experienced during several days of protest at Casilina 700 in Rome: