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    • Anti-Mafia strategy requires civil society participation

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    • Date: 16 March 2015
      Laura Garavini, MP of the Italian Parliament and the founder of the initiative "Mafia? Nein, danke!" and Riccardo Guido, advisor to the Anti-mafia Parliamentary Committee in the Italian Parliament, were panellists at the discussion Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) organized with the support of the OSCE Mission to Serbia.

      Laura Garavini and Sonja Stojanovic Gajic
      Laura Garavini and Sonja Stojanovic Gajic
      The role of CSOs in fight against organized crime brought more than 30 participants to the panel discussion in BCSP library
      The role of CSOs in fight against organized crime brought more than 30 participants to the panel discussion in BCSP library

      Raising citizens awareness and their inclusion is of pivotal importance in a fight against organized crime - this was conclusion of the panel discussion "Civil Society Against Organized Crime" held in BCSP library on March 16, 2015.

      “It's not enough to work just on having good laws and strong police and prosecution, but it is necessary to encouraged citizens not to comply with the rules imposed by criminal organizations. Without the participation of citizens there is no effective fight against organized crime,” noted BCSP Director Sonja Stojanovic Gajic and highlighted the importance of "creating a real sense of community, to win over and eradicate omertà" (code of silence).

      While acknowledging differences due to specific contexts, MP Laura Garavini, who represents Italians living in Europe in the Italian Deputy Chamber, stressed the importance of learning from best practices such as Addiopizzo, in order to create multidimensional networks.

      Civil society initiatives

      “The Sicilian initiative creatively opposed Mafia by engaging with civil society, institutions and security sector. It created a label for entrepreneurs and shop owners to display on their main doors. A simple gesture that clearly states the person’s opposition to pizzo (protection money monthly extorted),” she noted.

      Addiopizzo sticker - An entire community paying pizzo is a community with no dignity
      Addiopizzo sticker - An entire community paying pizzo is a community with no dignity

      Following this format, Ms Garavini created "Mafia? Nein Danke!" (Mafia? No Thanks!).Both initiatives request its members to sign and commit to their statutory ethical code by refusing extortion, bribery and favouritism.

      “The initiative was created in response to the fragmented representation of the problem of Italian organized crime in Germany, often based on superficial stereotypes. Civil society joined forces, proving that being Italian abroad means also exporting legality. The aim is to raise awareness about the problem of organized crime groups being active in Germany as well as in Europe,” explained Ms Garavini.

      She noticed how organized crime benefitted from the formation of EU and the elimination of borders by "globalizing their area of interest". Moreover, Ms Garavini highlighted the importance of prevention, and letting people understand "how legality and respect of the rule of law lead to living a better life".

      “For these reasons, trust relationships between civil society, institutions and security forces are essential, in order to create a positive lobby. Media has key role in spreading information about important initiatives, and in pressuring state to respond to the problems indicated by civil society,” noted Ms Garavini and wished for Serbia to enter EU soon in order to be active partner in the lobby against organized crime and to strive for collective democracy. 

      The cost of corruption

      MP Garavini is also member of the Bicameral Inquiry Commission on Mafia-Related Phenomena. During the panel she called attention to often overlooked link between corruption and organized crime. She illustrated how corruption creates a vicious spiralby instituting corruptive agreements within administration, both national and local, which consistently harms economy, productivity and democracy.

      "Organized crime is not necessarily physically visible but it exists. Money is not always necessary. Favors and promises are sealed to guarantee no controls will be made over public procurements. Corruption expels legality from the system. As the Commission investigation shows: after drugs, the second biggest income source for organized crime is public procurements," stressed Ms Garavini.

      Riccardo Guido and Laura Garavini
      Riccardo Guido and Laura Garavini

      Her colleague, Mr Riccardo Guido, who has longstanding experience as advisor of the Commission, said that Italy has a mechanism of seizure of property to any person who is unable to prove its origin.

      “Therefore, the state comes into possession of large quantities of confiscated property, which is then allocated to the use of numerous actors - police, local government, social services, charity initiatives, civil society organizations, agricultural cooperatives, etc. From this, the biggest beneficiaries are citizens and local communities, thus promoting the legal business,” he explained.

      Responsible citizenship

      MP Garavini explained the multiple ways in which civil society can support legality “not only by complying with laws, but also with ethical consumption”.

      “When choosing to travel, it is now possible to book pizzo-free accommodations; likewise, when shopping, one can buy mafia-free goods such as pasta, wine, and tomato sauce”.

      Mr Giuseppe Manzo, Italian Ambassador in Serbia, was in the audience and took the chance to point out that the citizens of his country engaged in personal cooperation with institutional bodies and greatly contributed to the fight against the criminal organizations.

      “It is not possible to fight the organized crime without active involvement of citizens,” stressed Mr Manzo.

      Social Anti-mafia Movement

      Bed Sheet Movement in Palermo
      Bed Sheet Movement in Palermo

      Mr Guido is author of the book “Salvo e le Mafie” (Salvo and the Mafias), which is an example of sensitive education of new generations through literature. At the panel he outlined the peculiar history of the so-called “Social Anti-Mafia Movement” in Italy. It traces back to the revolutionary "Bed Sheet Movement" spontaneously born few days after the Capaci massacre (Sicily, 23 June 1992), when Magistrate Falcone was killed along with his wife Francesca Morvillo and three bodyguards Vito Schifani, Rocco Di Cillo, and Antonio Montinaro. Marta Cimino, 38-year-old woman, decided to react to this heinous crime and to draw on a bed sheet "NO TO THE MAFIA" to show publicly her indignation. She displayed it out of her balcony, proudly remarking her distance from the events, not afraid of being easily recognisable. Her neighbours spontaneously followed her, and within few days, the city of Palermo was covered with this powerful symbol.

      Workshop for researchers

      During their visit to BCSP Ms Laura Garavini and Mr Riccardo Guido held a workshop for BCSP research team and colleagues from CINS and ASTRA on the experiences of ‘Mafia? Nein, danke!’ initiative in fighting against organized crime. How to obtain information and data on activities of mafias and what are the most useful and important partnerships that CSOs can establish when working on tackling organized crime were among questions debated with guests from the Italian Parliament. Comparison of problems organized crime poses to Italy, Germany and EU countries and sharing the experiences that Serbian CSOs might find useful when it comes to the involvement of civil society in tackling organized crime were also topics at the workshop.

      Laura Garavini and Riccardo Guido held a workshop on civil society role in fight against organized crime
      Laura Garavini and Riccardo Guido held a workshop on civil society role in fight against organized crime
      Group photo of BCSP and CINS researchers with partners form OSCE Serbia and guests from the Italian Parliament
      Group photo of BCSP and CINS researchers with partners form OSCE Serbia and guests from the Italian Parliament

       

       

      Report written by BCSP Guest Researcher Alma Rondanini

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