Italy’s proposal to fingerprint every Roma in the country, including minors, has led the European Parliament to ask the European Commission to investigate. Some EU countries have called the plan racist, saying it prejudges the nomadic Roma people as criminals.
EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot says he is waiting for a report from the Italian interior minister by the end of the month.
During debate surrounding the resolution passed in Strasbourg, Barrot asked: “What is the fingerprint collection’s final purpose? What legal basis authorises such a gathering of personal data? Are the data kept? How are they kept? To what ends can they be used? The Roma must be helped, and not stigmatised.”
Interior Minister Roberto Maroni is a member of the right-wing Northern League in the Berlusconi centre-right government coalition. He said: “The European Parliament holds the Italian government at fault for a reform which was tabled by the former Prodi government, which wrote about a ‘Roma emergency.’”
An estimated 160,000 Roma live in Italy, many from Romania. Maroni said the print-taking would be done with the cooperation of the Red Cross, and that children would be included, “to prevent phenomena such as begging.”