20 June 2018Hot off the Press
Far-right Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has called for a census of the country’s Roma population, and for all non-Italian Roma to be expelled.
Faced with outrage — both domestic and international — Mr Salvini defended his plans, vowing to turn “words into action”.
“I’m not giving up and I’m pushing ahead! The Italians and their safety first,” Mr Salvini tweeted.
The move continues Mr Salvini’s hard line against migrants into Europe, which included a refusal to allow a ship carrying more than 600 people rescued from the Mediterranean Sea from docking in Italy last week.
Opposition MPs have called the idea of a census “racist” and “fascist”, and critics have said that the Minister is adopting unconstitutional polices that echo Italy’s fascist past.
Former Senator and human rights expert Francesco Palermo said that the creation of an ethnic-specific census and expulsions like those described by Mr Salvini are legally impossible, and had previously been rejected by Italian courts.
European Commission spokesperson Alexander Winterstein said that “as a general rule, we cannot deport a European citizen based on ethnic criteria.”
Luigi Di Maio, leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, spoke out for the first time against his coalition partner, calling the proposal “unconstitutional”.
Commentators have suggested this may be the start of a rift between the coalition partners, which have so far attempted to display unity despite their vast political differences.