“Rigorous confinement of gypsy community” announced over Facebook by Socialist council

The Socialist council of Castro Verde in the Alentejo is in hot water today for having announced “the rigorous confinement” of its (local) gypsy community over Facebook – along with details of the community’s test results.

Outraged Facebook group Iniciativa Cigana (Gypsy Initiative) has said it is presenting a complaint to the competent authorities for “racial segregation, racial discrimination and violation of the right to privacy in health”.

The argument centres on why did the council feel it was necessary to focus on one ethnic group within the borough which has an incidence proportionate to 460 cases among 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days?

The barney hasn’t been helped by the fact shortly after the council posted its “Information Covid-19 – Gypsy Community Castro Verde” announcement, it removed it.

Expresso subsequently quizzed Mayor António José Brito on whether the council’s actions were discriminatory, getting the reply: “I reject that idea completely, why is it discrimination?”

The paper explained that as the whole country’s population is ‘confined to their homes’ under the State of Emergency, wasn’t it just a little unnecessary to have announced this situation in quite the way that it went out?

“Perhaps it was…” agreed the mayor.

He didn’t however volunteer any reason for the removal of the announcement a few hours later, stressing only that the council is “accompanying this situation very closely”. 

The mayor told Expresso, it involves “an outbreak of almost 20 cases… we are very worried, the gypsy community has some closeness with the council which is supporting it with basic necessities”.

The issue is particularly pertinent in as much as right-wing MP André Ventura caused a furore in parliament last year, calling for “a specific plan of approach and confinement for gypsy communities in face of Covid-19”. 

His proposal was considered “repugnant”, “racist and xenophobic”, as well as unconstitutional, by politicians on both the centre-right and the left.

SOS Racism has since stepped into the controversy, citing Article 13 in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic that establishes “all citizens should have the same social dignity and be treated equally under the law”.

As to the publishing of the test results of the community of the Rossio do Santo, this flagrantly violated data protection legislation, says the NGO.

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