Last Updated: Friday, 12 September 2014, 13:51 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Italy

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Italy, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee71c.html [accessed 15 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Italy (Tier 1)

Italy is a destination and transit country for women, children, and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Victims originate from Romania, Nigeria, Morocco, Albania, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, China, and, to a lesser extent, Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Ecuador. Romanians and other children from Eastern Europe continued to be subjected to sex trafficking and forced begging in the country. A significant number of men continued to be subjected to forced labor and debt bondage, mostly in the agricultural sector in southern Italy and the service sectors in the north of the country. Recruiters or middlemen are often used as enforcers for overseeing the work on farms in the south; reportedly they are often foreigners linked to organized crime elements in southern Italy. Immigrant laborers in the agriculture, construction, and domestic service sectors and those working in hotels and restaurants were particularly vulnerable to forced labor. Forced labor victims originate in Poland, Romania, Pakistan, Albania, Morocco, Bangladesh, China, Senegal, Ghana, and Cote d'Ivoire.

The Government of Italy fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government provided comprehensive social assistance to identified trafficking victims and it continued to vigorously prosecute trafficking offenders. However, the government has yet to adopt national procedures for the identification and referral of victims throughout Italy. Furthermore, NGOs remain concerned that the government's focus on the expedited return of illegal migrants and foreign women in street prostitution resulted in trafficking victims not being identified by authorities and therefore being treated as law violators and being penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. During the reporting period, the country's prime minister was investigated for facilitating child prostitution.

Recommendations for Italy: Ensure that formalized protection and services are provided to victims of forced labor in Italy; collect and disseminate comprehensive law enforcement data disaggregating forced labor from forced prostitution convictions; standardize identification and referral procedures for potential trafficking victims on the national level; increase outreach and identification efforts to all potential victims to ensure trafficking victims are not penalized for immigration crimes committed as a direct result of being trafficked; implement proactive anti-trafficking prevention programs targeted at vulnerable groups, trafficked victims and the larger public; consider establishing an autonomous, national rapporteur to enhance anti-trafficking efforts; and share Italy's best practices on victim protection with other countries.

Prosecution

The Government of Italy continued to proactively investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders during the reporting period. Italy prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through its 2003 Measures Against Trafficking in Persons Law, which prescribes penalties of eight to 20 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. In 2009, the government reported investigating 2,521 suspected trafficking offenders, resulting in the arrest of 286 people, compared with investigating 2,738 suspects, and arresting 365 people in 2008. Italian courts convicted 166 trafficking offenders in 2009, an increase from 138 convictions in 2008. The average sentence imposed on offenders convicted under the country's trafficking law was 6.5 years in prison. Trafficking offenders convicted under exploitation of underage prostitution and slavery laws were given sentences averaging 3.5 and 1.5 years, respectively. The government did not disaggregate its data to demonstrate convictions of forced labor offenders.

In February 2011, investigators disrupted a criminal organization composed of three groups of Romanians and Italians suspected of trafficking in persons in Messina. Prosecutors requested the arrest of 40 individuals accused of recruiting, kidnapping, segregating, raping, and forcing Romanian victims into prostitution as well as threatening their relatives in Romania. The suspects reportedly also auctioned off the virginity of underage victims. Although the government continued to investigate acts of trafficking-related complicity involving police officers and other officials, it did not report any resulting prosecutions, convictions, or sentences. Specifically, the government did not report additional action in a case from December 2009 in which authorities arrested and charged two prison guards with exploitation of women in prostitution or a case from September 2007 involving an officer of the Italian consulate in Kyiv arrested for facilitating the trafficking of young girls for forced prostitution. In May 2010, officials arrested two police officers suspected of trafficking-related complicity in a night club in Pisa. In February 2011, judges set a trial date for Prime Minister Berlusconi for the alleged commercial sexual exploitation of a Moroccan child; media reports indicate evidence of third party involvement in the case, indicating the girl was a victim of trafficking.

Protection

In 2010, the Government of Italy continued to provide comprehensive assistance to identified trafficking victims, primarily through the funding of NGOs by national, regional and local authorities. Article 13 of the Law 228/2003 provides victims with three to six months' assistance while Article 18 of Law 286/1998 guarantees victims shelter benefits for another 12 months and reintegration assistance. Application of this article is renewable if the victim finds employment or has enrolled in a training program, and is sheltered in special facilities. Foreign child victims of trafficking received an automatic residence permit until they reached age 18. While there are arrangements at the local level to help guide officials in identifying and referring trafficking victims, the government did not have formal procedures on the national level for all front-line responders in Italy. The government did not provide information on the overall number of victims identified or the number who entered social protection programs during the year, though it reported that 527 victims obtained temporary residence visas in 2010, a decline from 810 victims who obtained such visas in 2009. The police reported identifying 640 victims of labor exploitation in 2010, compared to 410 identified in 2009. During the reporting period, government funding made available for social assistance programs for trafficking victims was approximately $12.7 million. Eighty-three victims assisted law enforcement in the investigation of their traffickers. The Italian government does not have a formal reflection period during which trafficking victims can recuperate and decide whether to assist law enforcement, but rather informally grants one without it being limited to a finite number of days. A recent NGO report praised this informal reflection period, noting its "important results" when combined with comprehensive assistance provided to victims.

During the reporting period, the government continued to implement anti-immigration security laws and policies resulting in fines for illegal migrants and their expedited expulsion from Italy. Further, in November 2010, the government approved a security package that provides for the return of foreign women in prostitution found on the street in violation of rules adopted by local authorities. Local and international experts continue to voice concerns that this commitment to expedited expulsion has prevented law enforcement authorities from adequately identifying potential victims of trafficking.

Prevention

The Government of Italy demonstrated some efforts to prevent trafficking in 2010, but did not launch any new, comprehensive anti-trafficking campaigns to raise awareness or address demand for forced prostitution and forced labor during the reporting period. The Ministry for Equal Opportunity established a committee that included independent experts and NGOs to draft Italy's first national action plan on trafficking in 2010. Transparency in the government's anti-trafficking efforts was limited, however, as the government did not report publicly on its policies or various measures to address the problem. In September 2010, a federation of tour operators and trade unions presented its first report on child sex tourism: reportedly 78 percent of 130 tour operators informed their tourism clients about the need to respect children when traveling abroad; however, the report criticized Italian authorities for not enforcing child sex tourism laws. The Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units continued to organize training on human rights and trafficking for personnel who serve in international missions and the Italian armed forces regularly organize training to prevent the trafficking or sexual exploitation of women and children while troops are deployed abroad for any purpose.

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