ILC raises awareness of mafia land grabbing

Photo credit: ILC

 ROME – The first “International conference against all forms of Mafia” was due to start in Slovakia on Nov 11.  The International Land Coalition (ILC) will be attending in order to raise awareness of criminal land-grabbing in Europe and to show support to the small farmers of the region affected by this crime, said the organisation in a press release.

 The ILC is a worldwide organisation of civil society and intergovernmental organisations, with the aim of realising land governance for and with people at the country level, responding to the needs and protecting the rights of people and communities who living on and from the land.

 The Conference, held in Trnava, Slovakia, was convened in commemoration of the life of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak.  He and his partner Martina Kusnirova, both 27, were killed on Feb. 21 2018, before his last report on corruption and the Italian Mafia in Slovakia was published.

 “This is the first time Slovakia and Italy will bring together affected farmers, state officials, activists and media agencies to discuss strategies to combat criminal activity and corruption in the agricultural and land sector,” said the ILC’s press release.

 Mr Federico Cafiero De Raho, Italian Public Anti-Mafia and Counterterrorism Prosecutor, will give the main speech.

 For many members of ILC, the effects of land grabbing, including displacement from their homes, are a reality of daily life.

 Cases of land-based corruption have increased in recent years, with the Mafia expanding across Europe by taking advantage of European Union mechanisms, such as Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies.  In countries such as Slovakia, reports the ILC, small farmers say they have been beaten and extorted to force them to give up their subsidised land.

 A recent New York Times expose found that while the EU pays 65 billion dollars annually in farm subsidies to support farmers and maintain rural communities, in much of Central and Eastern Europe most of the money goes to “a connected and powerful few.”

 “Subsidies have underwritten Mafia-style land grabs in Slovakia and Bulgaria,” said the newspaper.

  According to the ILC, this crisis has not received attention because of a lack of common legislation between EU member states.  Meanwhile, the organisation continues to work around the world to protect land rights.