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European Union; Italy: Fingerprinting of Roma Approved

(Sept. 5, 2008) On September 4, 1008, the European Commission rejected accusations that Italy's fingerprinting of Roma gypsies as part of a census of their population in camps in the country amounted to ethnic discrimination. The Commission has said it is satisfied that the program is consistent with EU law. The Commission concluded that the Italian program, part of a crackdown on street crime, was not accumulating “data based on ethnic origin or religion,” but was instead the only way to identify “persons who cannot be identified in any other way.” (Richard Owen, EU Clears Belusconi over Roma Gypsies, TIMES ONLINE (London), Sept. 4, 2008, available at

The recent decision came after human rights organizations, UNICEF, the European Parliament, and the Romanian government criticized the Italian program, arguing that it inflamed anti-immigrant feelings. Italy was asked to submit a report on the project to the Commission, which it did on August 1, 2008. The European Parliament is still planning to do its own investigation of the way the census has been carried out in Italy. (EU Gives Blessing for Italy's Roma Fingerprint Scheme, EU OBSERVER, Sept. 5, 2008, available at