Romania’s Interior Minister Carmen Dan says that as far as the situation of Romanian women allegedly abused in the workplace in Italy there is a preliminary criminal investigation underway into the situation.
She was asked on Thursday at the Government House if she had been informed that the said Romanian women allegedly got their jobs there via fellow Romanians.
“We are deploying sustained efforts in this case,” said Dan, adding that a Romanian delegation is now in Sicily to probe the situation there.
“The delegation is now in Italy. From what I have learned from the interior ministry attache there, there is a preliminary criminal investigation going on there, and that is why relevant information is confidential,” added Dan.
She went on to say that her ministry is keeping abreast of the case.
“We are keeping an eye on the case and, consequently, we are reacting immediately to move necessary resources any time necessary form the soil of another country as we are asked to intervene for policing cooperation. Such request has not been made yet, but I am convinced that acting on our demarche, we will find solutions for better and speedier resolution of the problem at hand,” she said.
In her turn, governmental spokesperson Alina Petrescu said the Romanian prime minister will get a final report on the fact-finding visits.
“One of the conclusions of the talks is that an assistance centre for victims will be suggested for creation and work will be done on it. The centre now is only at the stage of discussion. We are waiting for the conclusions of the mission,” said Petrescu.
Government delegation on fact-finding mission to Catania over Romanian farm workers here. Minister for Romanians Abroad Andreea Pastarnac speaks about pilot project of setting up a center of assistance for people vulnerable to abuse
A government delegation traveled to Italy and discussed on Wednesday with Catania authorities and experts, representatives of the Catania Prefect’s Office and City Hall about the cases where Romanian workers in this region were subjected to exploitation.
Premier Sorin Grindeanu ordered a delegation made of representatives of the Ministry for Romanians Abroad, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Labour and Social Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the Romanian Consulate in Catania and the Romanian Embassy in Rome) to promptly travel to Italy to inquire into the case, a release to Agerpres informs.
The dialogue with Prefect Silvana Riccio “focused on intensifying bilateral cooperation between authorities with responsibilities in the judiciary, social politics and equality of opportunities for European citizens and the correct information on the system of rights and freedoms governing Italy’s labor market,” said the cited source.
The concrete aspects both delegations particularly focused upon are the phenomenon of “fixers” (caporali) who fraudulently interpose between the employee and employer, expanding information campaigns targeted at Romanian citizens on Italian soil in order to render them aware of the risk of labor exploitation, abuse and human trafficking, says the release. According to the document, both sides insisted on the necessity of implementing a concrete plan of action, assumed at central and regional level, for the intervention of the competent Romanian and Italian authorities in overseeing the developments in the investigated cases and the reinsertion of the persons subjected to abuse.
The Romanian officials dispatched on mission to Italy consider that the Romanian associations established in Italy can play an important role in providing concrete support to people in difficulty. This active involvement must prompt the Bucharest authorities to identify an optimal mechanism to legitimize and acknowledge these structures as official contributors to the policies committed to by the Romanian state in this matter.
Both the Romanian and the Italian side highlighted the importance of organizing consistent information campaigns on topics concerning the system of rights and civic freedoms in the European context, non-discriminatory access to the labor market, the system of rights and obligations towards the state on whose territory a legal activity is being carried out and the risks assumed in case of law violations.
According to Minister for Romanians Abroad Andreea Pastarnac, the institutionalization of civic education formulas for the Romanian citizens abroad may mean setting up as fast as possible a center of assistance for people in need, who are vulnerable to abuse. Such a pilot project will reflect the proactive approach of the authorities in Bucharest translated in the concrete concern for the safety of the Romanian citizen and his correct information.
In this context, the representatives of the Romanian and Italian authorities underscored the importance of activating the mechanisms for the democratic participation of the citizens organized in associations or trade unions in rendering Romanian workers in Italy aware of the phenomenon of job fixers (caporali).
The Italian authorities assured the Romanian delegation that they are making all legal and institutional efforts and the Italian side will organize information and awareness campaigns regarding the risks of undeclared work, workforce exploitation, psychological and physical abuse, human trafficking etc., beginning with Catania and Ragusa.
The Minister for Romanians Abroad assured the Italian side that Romania is running a nationwide check on the companies that recruit workers for Italy and that the help of Italian authorities for the continuation of these efforts is essential.
A report published last Sunday in the British weekly Observer reveals that thousands of Romanian female farm workers in Sicily’s Ragusa province are victims of numerous abuses, including sexual threats and assault.
According to Italian migrant rights organization Proxyma Association cited by the British publication, “more than half of all Romanian women working in the greenhouses are forced into sexual relations with their employers. Almost all of them work in conditions of forced labour and severe exploitation.”
PM Grindeanu: I will discuss with ForMin Melescanu, our embassy in Italy needs back-up
Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu announced on Wednesday that he would discuss with the Foreign Affairs Minister, Teodor Melescanu about the necessity to consolidate the team from the Romanian Embassy in Italy, in the context of the foreign media coverage of the Romanian workers’ situation in the south of this country.
“I consulted today with Ms. Minister Pastarnac (e.n. – Minister for Romanians abroad) and she informed me about the meetings she has had with the local authorities in Sicily and that she would have the following day (e.n. – Thursday). I am waiting for the report she will present by the end of this week. What matters to us is that Romanians – in great numbers working abroad for a better life, for earning more and sending more money home to their families – to feel protected by the Romanian state. I will have a discussion with Mr. Minister Melescanu, because it is clear that in Italy, at our Embassy there, the team needs back-up. At the same time, together with the Italian authorities, we must find the necessary leverage so that if these cases prove to be true, we find the necessary cooperation so that Romanians abroad feel protected by the Romanian state, and those who have done certain things that are not in compliance with the law, pay for it,” maintained Grindeanu at the public television TVR.
He added that there have been collaboration between the Romanian and Italian authorities on the topic, and that a few weeks ago, a check took place in the Lazio region, where many Romanians live and work, too, and no aspects “beyond the law” were signalled.
“It is important and Ms. Minister Pastarnac has addressed this issue with the Italian authorities, to open a counseling centre for Romanian workers there, so as to create the necessary means to prevent some unpleasant situations,” mentioned the prime minister.