One of our Observers for Italy recently alerted us to the news that as part of a major clampdown on "gypsy" communities the government plans to compile a fingerprint database of the country's entire Roma population, including children.

Under the scheme, announced by Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, authorities will randomly collect data from each of the country's Roma residents. Those without the correct paperwork will be considered illegal and deported within three months. The Berlusconi government has also announced plans to close down all illegally run or badly facilitated Roma camps as soon as possible. The plan has been condemned by the Italian left and caused a harsh reaction from the Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana.

This post was compiled with help from our Observer in Milan, Alberto Celani.

Roma in Milan

Photos by Alessandro Fornasetti -




"It's nothing out of the ordinary"

Fabrizio Cecchetti is a member of the Northern League Party and a councillor for the Milan area regional government.

The Italian integration model has failed. Gypsies no longer believe in the values they did traditionally and follow an increasingly consumerist way of life where authentic values have been replaced by false ones. Their settlements are havens of crime. Social conflict is a daily affair and they're involved in the exploitation of babies, young mothers and handicapped people. The government's database plan is the best way to check each person's identity. It's nothing out of the ordinary; you must remember that the state holds the fingerprints of the majority of the country's men anyway, because of military service."

"Politicians are just deserting this community"

Maurizio Pagani is the president of Opera Nomadi, an association working in favour of Roma integration in Italy:

This fingerprint scheme is not necessary. It would be easier to launch a basic census because most of the camps' residents are already known to the authorities anyway. Politicians are just deserting this community and not helping them to integrate. It's true that the gypsy culture is moving in the wrong direction but it's the responsibility of the state to bridge the gap between the group and mainstream society. The way some young Roma behave is the result of a society where there's no dialogue and no solidarity."