An appeal to end job discrimination in Italy
Italy is yet again defying EU law by failing to implement European Court of Justice rulings. Since the creation of a discriminatory law in 1980 reserved for foreign-language lecturers at Italian universities, Italy, a founder member of the European Union, has been engaging in systematic job discrimination. Domenico Pacitti and JUST Response urgently invite Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, President of Italy, and Premier Silvio Berlusconi to desist from discriminating immediately and to set a positive example for Italians by obeying the law.
open letter to the following signatories of decree law 4696:-
Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, President of Italy
Silvio Berlusconi, Premier of Italy
Letizia Moratti, Minister for higher education
Rocco Buttiglione, Minister for Community policy
Franco Frattini, Minister for foreign affairs
Giulio Tremonti, Minister for finance
Luigi Mazzella, Minister for public affairs
and to the good people of Italy
We respectfully request - 1) that you immediately apply both
the spirit and the letter of European law in order to end
longrunning job discrimination against over 1,500 foreign-language
lettori who teach at Italy's 77 universities; and 2) that
Italian politicians desist from trying to teach Italians and
others how to defy the law with impunity.
is an international human rights journal concerned with the
worldwide monitoring and promotion of the basic principles of
truth, justice, freedom and democracy. We wish to express our full
support for some 1,500 foreign-language lettori who have
been suffering job discrimination at your 77 universities for up
to 24 years. This long-term policy of discrimination continues to
take its toll on lettori not only economically and
professionally but also physically and psychologically.
June 2001, the European Court of Justice found Italy guilty of
discriminating against the lettori for a record third time.
On January 14 2004, in a declared attempt to end the
discrimination and under threat of heavy fines, you signed a
decree law. It not only conspicuously fails in its declared
purpose but actually renders the discrimination even worse. This
view is fully endorsed by the European Commission, which has
announced that it will now request the Court of Justice to impose
daily fines on Italy of 309,750 euros.
present conduct and your previous similar attempts to avoid
applying Court of Justice lettori discrimination rulings
against you in 1988 and 1993 together strongly suggest a fully
conscious and systematic recalcitrance towards the law. We firmly
condemn this on the following grounds:
politicians, you are setting a negative example for your citizens
founder members of the European Union, your conduct not only
betrays the Treaty of Rome but is widely considered to be
an EU member state, you now risk contaminating honest states in
teaching them how to break the law with impunity.
remind you that in the eyes of much of the international academic
community, Italian universities are not in fact real universities
at all and are called so only by courtesy. For it has long been
common knowledge that it is quite literally impossible to obtain a
tenured teaching post at any of Italy's 77 universities solely on
the basis of merit and without what is notoriously referred to as
Ironically, the only teachers at Italian universities with unquestioned competence in their subject are the lettori, since what they are teaching is their own native language. Nor do they receive their jobs by raccomandazione, since such untenured jobs are deemed too insignificant to require one. Yet you and your universities have treated and continue to treat with unpardonable contempt these people who have been invited to your country from every corner of the world in order to teach their language and culture to your students, often with a level of commitment that is sadly lacking in your "recommended" tenured teaching staff.
Note: This appeal was published by JUST Response on March 13 2004.