Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

Chairing the challenges of transnational organised crime today

Mon Oct 31 15:59:00 GMT 2016

As the University celebrated its 50th Anniversary back on campus, Dr Felia Allum from our Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies (POLIS) was in Rome convening the latest in a series of events aiming at shining a light on transnational organised crime.

Felia Allum on the panel at the event

Dr Felia Allum convened the latest in a series of events aiming at shining a light on transnational organised crime.


The event, organised by Dr Allum as Visiting Fellow at John Cabot University (Rome) together with Dr Isabella Clough Marinaro included contributions from Franco Roberti - Italy’s leading Antimafia and antiterrorism prosecutor - and Michael Gaeta - the FBI’s representative at the US Embassy in Rome.

At it, speakers touched upon different aspects of transnational organised crime and emerging issues for policy-makers to grapple with.

Whilst at times the fight against terrorism has distracted attention from the fight against organised crime and its related harms, they underlined how this has helped to improve police and judicial cooperation. Over the long term, this will benefit the fight against organised crime, they suggested.

Italy’s antimafia prosecutor, Franco Roberti, made clear how transnational organised crime has been able to develop thanks the four specific factors: globalisation of markets (legal and illegal); vulnerability of tax havens; vulnerability of political institutions; and due to differences between national legal systems.

In particular, Roberti analysed how criminal organisations have taken advantage of the differences and gaps between national legal systems, securing their economic assets in countries such as the US, Germany and Canada, which do not legally recognise 'mafia association' as a crime.

He insisted on the urgent need to harmonize legal systems in the EU in order to improve the prosecution process of criminals and recuperation of illegal assets across borders. Without consistent international cooperation and solid partnerships between law enforcement agencies, criminals will always be one step ahead, he said.

Mike Gaeta underlined the importance of the US RICO laws which have allowed American prosecutors to prosecute organized crime more systematically.

Although the picture that was drawn was quite a pessimistic one, there was also positive news. The UN, 16 years after the Palermo Convention on Transnational Organised Crime was signed, has decided to set up a commission to check on who has exactly ratified and adopted the convention. This will once again focus attention on what needs to be done.

Dr Allum said: "Over successive contributions at our event in Rome we heard how particular challenges persist in coordinating effective responses to tackle organised crime, but there is positive news in relation to the UN’s decision to set up a commission on the Palermo Convention.

"Challenges in tackling organised crime are entrenched and will never go away over night, but greater collaboration between researchers, policy-makers and organisations involved in the fight are helping to improve our responses.

"To bring together some of the biggest names in the fight against transnational organised crime, including Franco Roberti, is a real coup for the Department and the University."