"Italian mafias currently pose a considerable threat to Switzerland". In December 2019, the Federal Department of Justice and Police sounded the alarm: in Switzerland, as in many other countries, criminal organisations - such as the Calabrian ’ndrangheta - have been operating for a long time and in many areas. A phenomenon as deep-rooted as it is discreet, with characteristics such as the air-tight structure and the ability to blend perfectly in the community that allow these organisations to operate and expand. For the inquiring authorities, the task is very challenging, and among the public opinion, the mafia is still perceived - erroneously - as a problem distant from our reality.
Hence the idea of creating the first Ticino Observatory on Organised Crime (O-TiCO) . The competence center, developed in collaboration with Swiss Radio and Television (RSI), has been active since January 1, 2021, at the USI Institute of Law (IDUSI, directed by Prof. Federica De Rossa). Dr Annamaria Astrologo is the academic director of the Observatory, and RSI journalist Francesco Lepori is in charge of operations.
The new Observatory was officially presented on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, with a press conference held in the Aula Magna at the USI West Campus in Lugano. During the event, the activities of the Observatory were presented - the extensive archive, its potential for research, the organisation of public events - giving wide space to the authorities active in the fight against organised crime. The presentation event was attended, among others, by Nicoletta della Valle (Head of the Federal Office of Police), Thomas Ferrari (Head of the cantonal Judicial Police), and Sergio Mastroianni (Federal Prosecutor).
O-TiCO is located at the USI West Campus in Lugano and offers students and researchers the opportunity to consult its archives, which include a collection of court documents from the 1970s onwards relating to investigations in Ticino, and since 2010 of court documents relating to investigations in the rest of Switzerland. Almost a hundred cases have been listed so far, with a total of over 400 names. Each dossier consists of court documents, press articles, television and radio reports, photographs and other material. It is available in both digital and paper form. Such a database enables in-depth scientific analysis of the dimensions and characteristics of the phenomenon and the construction of research projects in the national and international context.
"The fight against organised crime is a subject of great social interest, but it is also one in which in-depth study through the rigour of scientific research is essential," explains Dr Astrologo. "Moreover, it is important that the Observatory is hosted at University, as it becomes the tangible expression of that connection between law and society in which the USI Law Institute firmly believes and which represents one of the missions of our University".
The Observatory will also organise training and information activities intended, on the one hand, to identify problematic issues of a substantive and procedural nature, while offering possible solutions with a view to regulatory reform and, on the other hand, to promote knowledge of the subject and education in the rule of law among the population, especially young people. The first of these events is scheduled for 16 September , as part of the celebrations for USI’s 25th anniversary, with a conference (in Italian) " Traces of organised crime in Ticino between past and present ", with speakers Alessandra Cerreti of the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Milan Court and Roy Garré, President of the Court of Criminal Complaints of the Federal Criminal Court.