Italy is a destination, transit, and source country for women, children, and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Victims subjected to human trafficking in Italy originate from Nigeria, Romania, Morocco, Tunisia, Moldova, Slovakia, Ukraine, China, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Poland, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Egypt, and India. Men are subjected to forced labor in agriculture in southern Italy and in construction and service industries in the north of the country. Children subjected to sex trafficking in Italy are from Romania, Nigeria, Brazil, Morocco, and Italy, specifically Roma and Sinti boys who may have been born in Italy. Transgender children from Brazil are subjected to sex trafficking in Italy. Nigerian children are subjected to labor trafficking through debt bondage and coercion through voodoo rituals. Roma children from Italy are subjected to forced labor in begging or petty theft. Disabled victims of trafficking from Romania are subjected to forced begging by Romanian transnational criminal networks. Men and women from Central Asia arriving in Italy through Russia, Turkey, and Greece are subjected to forced labor. Unaccompanied children, mainly boys from Bangladesh, Egypt, and Afghanistan, are at risk of trafficking.
The Government of Italy fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government provided comprehensive protection and assistance to a significant number of trafficking victims in 2012. The government continued to prosecute and convict offenders vigorously under the anti-trafficking law. The government did not always proactively screen for trafficking among vulnerable migrants, including asylum seekers arriving at Italian ports who were returned without adequate protection.
Recommendations for Italy: Collect and disseminate disaggregated law enforcement data to demonstrate efforts to combat both sex trafficking and forced labor; formalize standard procedures for police and other officials to systematically identify and refer victims of trafficking to services and protection, and ensure procedures are applied consistently; improve efforts to screen irregular migrants and asylum seekers to identify possible human trafficking victims and protect them from deportation that may contribute to re-trafficking; establish an autonomous national rapporteur to enhance anti-trafficking efforts and share Italy’s best practices on victim protection with other countries; and increase efforts to identify victims of domestic trafficking, specifically among children within the country who are vulnerable to forced labor and sex trafficking.
The government continued to vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders during the reporting period. Italy prohibits all forms of human trafficking though 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. Authorities investigated 2,471 suspects for trafficking in 2011—the most recent year for which law enforcement statistics were available—an increase from 2,333 in 2010. Italian prosecutors brought to trial 224 defendants in 2011, compared with 621 in 2010. Trial courts convicted 179 trafficking offenders in 2011; 174 were convicted in 2010. The average sentence imposed on convicted traffickers in 2011 was 6.5 years in prison; those convicted for exploitation of children in prostitution were sentenced to an average of 3.8 years’ imprisonment and a fine, and those convicted of slavery were sentenced to an average of 1.5 years’ imprisonment and a fine. The Government of Italy did not disaggregate data on convictions for sex trafficking and forced labor. In April 2012, authorities arrested a former Carabinieri police officer for recruiting and exploiting foreign women in prostitution; prosecution continued against this official at the end of the reporting period. Prosecution continued against former Prime Minister Berlusconi for the alleged commercial sexual exploitation of a Moroccan minor. The government continued to incorporate specialized training on victim identification and investigation of trafficking crimes in regular curriculum for law enforcement.
The government continued robust protection for victims of trafficking, but did not always proactively identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable migrants. The government and NGOs assisted 2,018 foreign victims of trafficking during the reporting period. About 70 percent of victims were women and one and a half percent were transgender. About 10 percent of victims were children. Forty percent of victims were subjected to labor trafficking. Observers reported that procedures for referring victims of trafficking to services—and the quality of services—varied by region; police did not consistently apply guidelines for victim identification and referral. NGOs reported that screening for trafficking was inadequate among the large number of refugees and migrants coming from Libya and Tunisia; it is possible authorities missed opportunities to identify victims of trafficking among these groups. There were reports of asylum seekers and unaccompanied children arriving to Italy’s Adriatic ports via Greece who were summarily returned to Greece under the EU Dublin II regulation without proper screening for protection needs, trafficking victimization, or age and best interest determinations for children. In 2012, the government issued temporary residence permits to 466 victims of trafficking; 74 of these victims were subjected to labor exploitation. Victims were not required to cooperate with law enforcement to obtain a residence permit. The government provides victims with three to six months’ assistance, shelter for an additional 12 months, and reintegration assistance. Victims may obtain a subsequent work or study permit, which can lead to permanent residency, if the victim finds employment or is enrolled in a training program through designated NGOs. Lack of specialized assistance for male victims of trafficking limited their access to these permits. Tightening of migration policies made it more difficult for victims of trafficking to obtain temporary residence permits and procedures on issuance of permits varied among provincial police headquarters. Despite dire economic circumstances and the Eurozone crisis, government funding for victim assistance remained stable at the equivalent of approximately $10.4 million in 2012.
The government decreased anti-trafficking prevention efforts in 2012. The government reduced funding of public awareness programs in an effort to concentrate resources on victim assistance. NGOs funded by the government, and in cooperation with municipalities, police, and social services, carried out campaigns at the local level targeted to reduce demand for commercial sex acts. The government did not demonstrate efforts to reduce demand for forced labor. The government continued to operate an active hotline for victims of trafficking. In 2012, the government launched an initiative in Angola to prevent child trafficking and provide basic assistance to unaccompanied children. The Ministry for Equal Opportunity coordinates an anti-trafficking committee of relevant ministries and the national anti-mafia prosecution unit. The government did not publish a systematic evaluation of its anti-trafficking efforts. The government’s first draft national anti-trafficking action plan remained pending approval with the Council of Ministers. The Italian armed forces continued to provide anti-trafficking training to civilians and military personnel before their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.