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Page last updated at 22:51 GMT, Friday, 16 May 2008 23:51 UK

Italy pledges to bolster security

A Roma man leaves a camp on the outskirts of Naples, Italy (15 May 2008)
Police raids have focused on Italy's Roma community

Italy's interior minister has said he will take immediate action to tackle the country's "security emergency".

Roberto Maroni, who belongs to the anti-immigrant Northern League, pledged to bolster the resources available for Italy's police and security services.

Earlier this week people in Naples set fire to makeshift homes of Roma - or Gypsy - families, forcing them to flee.

In Bucharest, Interior Minister Cristian David said Romanians should be able to go freely anywhere in the EU.

He told a press conference in the Romanian capital: "There are two things which are non-negotiable.

"One is respect for the law, and the other is respect for the right to free movement Romanians acquired with EU entry."

Crackdown

The eruption of violence in Italy followed a report that a Roma girl allegedly attempted to kidnap a baby.

Mr Maroni said "firm measures" were needed to avoid people taking matters into their own hands.

"It is time to intervene with force to prevent anger taking over... and to avoid episodes of the unjustifiable violence that we saw in Naples," Mr Maroni said.

A fire burns in a Roma camp in the Ponticelli district of Naples, Italy (May 13)
A Roma camp was set alight on the outskirts of Naples earlier this week

He also said he had already been in touch with the governments of Libya and Romania to try to draw up more effective ways of keeping out migrants with no job prospects.

Italy's foreign minister said on Friday that tougher controls were needed at borders.

Franco Frattini said that people from countries that do not form part of the Schengen Agreement - which allows passport-free movement between 24 European countries - should be digitally fingerprinted on entry to the EU and their details held on a database.

Policy shift

But the BBC's David Willey, in Rome, says that Mr Maroni and his colleagues have already had to adjust their sights and modify some of their pre-election rhetoric.

The EU in Brussels is monitoring the actions of the Italian government very carefully, while the Roman Catholic Church is also making its voice heard, he reports.

The comments from both Italian ministers come a day after authorities in Italy announced they had arrested nearly 400 suspected illegal immigrants during a week-long series of raids across the country.

The move is an apparent sign of the change of policy promised by the new right-wing government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.




SEE ALSO
Italy police to protect Gypsies
14 May 08 |  Europe

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