The Beat, CT Scan and Checkpoint
Rafah Border

The Beat

Mafia link to poverty

The mafia’s negative effect on Italian security is well documented. But research also indicates that organised crime is affecting the country’s economy. Researchers at Bocconi University have indicated that organised crime was responsible for a 20% drop in GDP in southern Italian regions affected by organised crime compared to those that aren’t. These findings, published in this month’s edition of Economic Journal, suggest that the presence of organised criminal activity increases the riskiness and uncertainty of the business environment, which ultimately lowers Italy’s potential economic growth.

Gun law reform

New firearm offences will be introduced in the Victorian Parliament today, targeting outlaw motorcycle gangs and organised criminal groups. New measures include introducing a ‘theft of firearm’ offence and seeking to lower the quantity of unregistered guns that constitutes ‘trafficking’ from ten to three.

The Commonwealth parliament is also currently considering mandatory sentencing for firearms trafficking, after the Sydney Siege inquest heard that the gun used in the Lindt Café was from the unregistered ‘grey market’.

Paw enforcement

The ABC’s five-part series on working dogs analyses the characteristics of animals that can assist humans with law enforcement duties. This week’s instalment outlines day-to-day work of Customs and Border Protection Labrador Gordo, who recently discovered a large amount of cash which officials were concerned was bound for the conflict in Syria.

CT Scan

Thai Terror

News on Monday’s bomb attack in Thailand, which left over 20 people dead, is still developing. A second explosion at Sathorn Pier, another popular tourist location, fortunately resulted in no injuries. Speculation over the possible perpetrators is rife, and a manhunt is underway. Sunny Burns, an Australian actor based in Thailand, surrendered himself to police due to rumours on social media about his resemblance to the suspect seen on CCTV. In his defence, Burns offered: ‘I would never wear those clothing [sic]—I’m a fashion blogger.’

Egypt’s controversial CT laws

Egypt’s President Sisi approved new counterterrorism legislation earlier this week, drawing criticism from journalists and human rights advocates. The new legislation increases protection for police and military officers who use excessive or lethal force, and imposes fines on journalists who contradict official reports. Egyptian public opinion is highly divided over the move, which some commentators see as necessary to combat domestic terrorism.

Questions about chemical weapons

Islamic State militants have purportedly used mustard gas in an attack on Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq. According to unnamed officials, the militants mostly likely obtained the chemical weapon in Syria, which brings the Assad regime’s claims of having destroyed its mustard gas stockpiles into question. The Assad regime also held stockpiles of sarin and VX, prompting questions about whether IS could possess these even deadlier chemical weapons.


Egypt waits for over 20,000 Palestinians

The Rafah border crossing, the doorway that connects Palestine with the rest of world, was opened on Monday for only four days. As the only crossing not under Israeli control, it’s expected that over 20,000 eager Palestinians will leave the coastal strip to seek access to medical and educational services in Egypt.

The short-lived measure that will allow Palestinians to travel to and from Egypt until today, is being welcomed as the border crossing has been largely closed since 2013 after former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown from power.

Trump sets the foundations for his ‘wall’

Republican presidential candidate and real estate tycoon Donald Trump recently unveiled his plan to secure American borders. If sworn into office, Trump has expressed his support for measures including a wall paid for by Mexico in the Southern border to stop illegal migration, and stronger penalties for overstaying visas. Despite many contests the viability for office, his unusual approach on the illegal migration topic took him to the first place in the polls for the Republican candidacy.

The border fact

From this week onwards, Checkpoint will share a border security-related fact. This week, did you know that thus far in 2015, nearly 30,000 migrants have perished in the Mediterranean according to the International Organisation for Migration?