No to the law in favour of the mafia!

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I'm dedicating this Sunday's post to Don Ciotti, one of those true priests who stay in the midst of the people and to his appeal to save the law regarding property confiscated from the mafia.

"In 1995, "Libera" collected a million signatures to push Parliament to approve the reform of the Rognoni - La Torre law
which introduced the possibility of assigning property confiscated from the mafia for social use. Before the law 109/96 {the 109th law passed in 1996} the number of buildings “recovered” could be numbered on a few hands. Today, of the 6,500 properties confiscated 2,500 have been made available for social use. In Sicily many co-operatives have been created and others are about to be formed in other regions. In these first ten years we have been very aware of the fact that the confiscation of property and the transfer to social use is certainly a problem that relates to politics, it is certainly a big social issue, with a relevant cultural dimension, but it is also a problem that involves issues of ethics and education. To return to the community that which has been the result of violence, of illegality, of trafficking, of exploitation, and of death, is fundamental.

Today Parliament risks approving a law that would make the results obtained useless. Among the many doubtful aspects there may be the possibility of revision “without time limits” and at the request of any person. With an “interest that is judicially recognised”, after final confiscation. Who would cope with managing  - whether it is a local authority, a co-operative or an association – a property in this precarious state, after having spent public resources to restructure it? It is a gift to the mafia and to the mafia-folk.

Another doubtful choice, present in the new draft law, arises from assigning to the Agenzia del Demanio {State property management Agency} the management of the properties from the sequestration to confiscation. It seems a further paradox: in the past it has actually been this agency, because of serious failings in its internal organisation, that has put the brakes on the whole process.

Parliament can correct the route being taken if it takes on board certain propositions.

The first proposition is that of cancelling the possibility of revision of the confiscation and on the part of “anyone”, making allowances for the reversal by an equal compensation in the case that there are victims of judicial errors.

The second is the setting up of an ad hoc Agency so that all the competences and the professional abilities that have been developed in the last few years can flow into it, whereas today they are dispersed in tiny trickles.

Lastly, we need to give value to the role of the citizens and the associations in promoting legality and in standing up against the mafia. It’s true that we appear to be continually appealing to the “civil society” and to the associations, to the young people, but in reality we are cancelling out their potential contribution, in terms of the push, the accompanying, the verification, the control and the true participation.

It is for these reasons that the association Libera (which brings together more than 1200 national and local associations, schools, and co-operatives) and many families of victims of mafia activity are asking through an appeal for a serious and profound rethink, during a parliamentary debate, of the draft law AC 5362, and above all in relation to the possibility to revise the final confiscation measures, so that all the political forces know how to find the correct equilibrium between the protection of the rights of who is subject to the confiscation and the necessity to remove from the mafia organisations the immense patrimony which is being accumulated each year, bathed in illegality and in blood. By transforming these properties, as is happening with great effort today, we are giving tangible signs of legality and justice.”

Don Ciotti.


Support the appeal by email: libera@libera.it or by fax: 06/6783559

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:54 PM in | Comments (2)
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In July, I visited the Cooperativa Sociale Placido Rizzotto, which is managing farmland seized from two of the most evil, degenerate mafiosi in Sicily, Giovanni Brusca and Toto Riina. The Cooperativa's lands are in Corleone and San Giuseppe Jato, the dark ehart of mafia country. The young, courageous, progressive agronomists who are running the cooperative need to be supported for the wonderful work they are doing in reclaiming this land and turning it to honest use. I spent an entire day with one of the cooperative's directors, and I was impressed both by his idealism and dedication, and by what his group has accomplished. They are farming the land, and are producing their own pasta, oil, wine, legumi, etc, which they sell in Italky and other European countries. They also have turned a country villa owned by a mafioso into a beautiful agriturismo, with its own restaurant serving cucina siciliana.

I am not surprised that some in Italy's corrupt, reactionary, mafia-aligned Berlusconi regime are trying to undermine the assets confiscation law. Two of Berlusconi's main allies in Sicily, Utri and Cuffaro, have been indicted on mafia charges.

Despite what Sr. Ludovico says, I think the real danger is not that some NGOs might be corrupt, but that the government that is now trying to undermine the assets confiscation law definitely is corrupt, even criminal.

Posted by: George De Stefano | November 28, 2005 03:59 PM


Poznan, 28 November 2005

Don Ciotti's appeal is fully understandable, but I deem it necessary to inform people in a greater detail about the draft law to be discussed in the Parliament. Perhaps, the reasons for this draft-law are based on the fear that the management of the Mafia's assets confiscated by law might be the subject of abuses that - in certain cases - could be worse than the crime from which the assets came. For example, the idea that initiative and management from people co-operatives is one of the best solutions to the problem offers - instead - a viable way to Mafia to recover the lost assests. It is what I have experienced in other countries, where I've worked as a consultant. In developing countries, where most part of most bureaucracies are corrupt, public officers - through "friends" and associates - are particyularly skilled in organising co-operatives and other "people's initiatives" for the purpose of abusing and misusing public money and/or grants, along with other aids from developed countries and/or international financial institutions.
But this is true also of Italy: I, myself, have had the opportunity to undergo a bitter experience with some self-labelled "NGOs" in Africa, which were basically "people's organisations" aimed at diverting as many as possible funds, bound for underdeveloped countries, towards political parties of our civilised Italy. Well, we must not generalise, but the risk is there. Which implies the need for a public institution, subject to formal control, for managing confiscated assets, and - even so - not all the risks vanish (the NGOs I've mentioned above were theoretically under the control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). I know nothing about the faults of Agenzia del Demanio, and it would be usefull to know from Don Ciotti what kind of indrances Agenzia del Demanio has opposed to the social use of the confiscated assets. Instead of resorting to largely spread people's initiative, which are difficult to control (without denying the fact the many of them are proper and effective), it could perhaps be better to attach to some public specific body the legal responsibility for the accurate selection of those applications (presented for the use of the assets) which appear to be the most serious, credible and promising ones.

Posted by: Mario Ludovico | November 28, 2005 03:12 PM


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