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On The Question of Human Rights Abuses Perpetrated by the Mafia in Italy

The Italian Mafia and other criminal organizations prove a direct threat to the upholding of universal human rights and are fundamentally opposed to any pacific societal order.  These organizations have committed serious human rights violations such as routinely engaging in human trafficking operations.  As criminal associations constitute a very real issue for the Italian state, the government should take effective and constructive steps towards building community resilience, reforming immigration legislation and continuing police operations.

Human trafficking and forced labor are important sources of income for the Mafia and criminal organizations.  A 2010 ‘Save the Children’ declared that Italy is the most prolific European state in terms of human trafficking.  Furthermore, a 2013 ‘Save the Slaves’ study documented that out of 9,500 reported cases of human trafficking, 2,400 occurred in Italy.  Many cases were associated with Mafia organizations.  While this crisis is deeply troubling, actors can take strong measures to combat and resolve this challenging problem.

The first and foremost step is to build societal opposition to the services which the Mafia delivers to impoverished citizens.  By de-legitimizing the Mafia and eliminating its appeal as a provider of a perceived form of social order and stability by Italians, individuals will reject the advances of Mafias and criminal organizations.  The Italian government alongside civil society actors should aid this process by creating lucrative employment opportunities in order to provide a legitimate alternative to criminal activity.  This will begin to eliminate long term support for criminal organizations and therefore reduce human rights violations.

Secondly, the government reform immigration legislation.  Particular focus should be placed upon improving infrastructure such as welcome facilities and provide better human services such as medical facilities with competent staff members and social case officers.  Furthermore, more emphasis should be placed on tracking immigrants whether they settle in Italy or elsewhere. These measures will contribute to decent living conditions and protect vulnerable migrants from being abused and taken advantage of by criminal organizations.

Finally, the government must maintain police operations to limit the Mafia’s ability to operate.  Effective police work will protect citizens in the short term from intimidation and violence and will limit human rights abuses through Mafia related human trafficking and forced labor.

The Italian people and government should be a force for good in the world.  However, their ability to fulfill this role is severely limited by serious human rights abuses and societal support for the Mafia and other criminal organizations.  This translates into real, terrible and ultimately preventable crime.  The government and civil society can eliminate organized crime from Italy by delegitimizing the Mafia, enacting immigration reform and conducting efficient police operations.  Then Italy can be a force for good in the world.

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