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Hon. Alcee L. Hastings, Chairman
Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
www.csce.gov
July 7, 2008

HELSINKI COMMISSION CO-CHAIRMEN EXPRESS ALARM OVER FINGERPRINTING OF ROMA BY ITALIAN AUTHORITIES


(Washington, D.C.) Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) and Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Co-Chairmen of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), expressed alarm over reports that Italian authorities are targeting members of the Romani minority for fingerprinting. The program, an initiative spearheaded by the Minister of Interior, extends to Romani individuals living in 700 camps throughout Italy. The government is targeting Italian citizens, non-Italian citizens from European Union countries as well as children.

“We remain concerned about the escalation of anti-Roma and anti-migrant manifestations in Italy. Just last month we wrote to Foreign Minster Frattini, conveying our concern about pogroms carried out in Naples and other cities against Roma” said Co-Chairmen Hastings and Cardin.

“The blatant racial profiling of Roma by the Italian government sets a very dangerous precedent and turns back the clock to one of Europe’s darkest times. The government’s actions may only exacerbate acts of intolerance by the general public. I urge the government to immediately cease this program of fingerprinting Roma,” said Chairman Hastings.

Co-Chairman Cardin noted, “Singling out Roma for fingerprinting is nothing more than an exercise in racism. It was not that long ago when measures like this were a prelude to deportation, imprisonment, torture and death. I remain troubled by the increased violence against minorities in Italy. I urge the Italian government to disband the fingerprinting program and concentrate its efforts on investigating and prosecuting the attacks against Roma and migrants that have already occurred.”

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.

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