[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

ITALY (TIER 1)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Italy is a destination and transit country for women, children, and men trafficked internationally for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women and children are trafficked for forced prostitution mainly from Nigeria, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Albania, and Ukraine but also from Russia, South America, North and East Africa, the Middle East, China, and Uzbekistan. Chinese men and women are trafficked to Italy for the purpose of forced labor. Roma children continue to be trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced begging. Men are trafficked for the purpose of forced labor, mostly in the agricultural sector in southern Italy. According to one NGO, 90 percent of foreign seasonal workers are unregistered and two-thirds are in Italy illegally, rendering them vulnerable to trafficking. The top five source countries for agricultural workers, from which forced labor victims are likely found, are Poland, Romania, Pakistan, Albania, and Cote d’Ivoire. Traffickers continued to move victims more frequently within Italy, often keeping victims in major cities for only a few months at a time, in an attempt to evade police detection. NGOs and independent experts report that trafficking has shifted into more private, hidden sectors, causing the identification of trafficking victims to become more difficult and complex.

The Government of Italy fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. During the reporting period, the government continued to vigorously investigate and convict trafficking offenders and continued to implement its progressive victim-centered approach for the rescue, reintegration, and repatriation of trafficking victims in Italy.

Recommendations for Italy: Increase outreach and identification efforts to women and children in prostitution to ensure that trafficking victims are identified, provided care, and not penalized for crimes committed as a direct result of being trafficked; proactively identify potential trafficking victims among Italy’s illegal immigrants; continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute allegations of trafficking-related complicity; and expand public awareness campaigns aimed at reducing domestic demand for commercial sex acts.

The Government of Italy continued to vigorously investigate, prosecute and convict 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 grave offenses. The government uses other laws, which carry lesser penalties, in some cases to prosecute trafficking for the purpose of forced labor. Incomplete data for 2008 show the government investigated 2,221 individuals, arrested 316, prosecuted 480 trafficking suspects and convicted 225 trafficking offenders, compared to 163 convicted for the same time frame in 2007. The average sentence was six years’ imprisonment, an increase from four years in 2007. Complete data for 2007 show the government convicted a total of 282 trafficking offenders. For sentences of more than two years, defendants were not eligible to receive suspended sentences. In 2008, the government convicted 23 trafficking offenders from a 2006 case involving the trafficking of 113 Polish tomato pickers in Puglia who were exploited in forced labor conditions; all 23 trafficking offenders were sentenced to four to ten years’ imprisonment. According to an NGO based in Genoa working with Nigerian victims of trafficking, some government officials have been imprisoned for facilitating trafficking. In September 2007, an officer of the Italian consulate in Kyiv was arrested for facilitating the trafficking of young girls for forced prostitution in clubs and discos; the Italian government did not report on any subsequent investigation in Italy.

The Italian government sustained its victim-centered efforts to protect trafficking victims during the reporting period. Article 18 of its anti-trafficking law allows authorities to grant residence permits and provide protection and job training services to victims of trafficking. Article 13 of the law provides for three to six months’ assistance to victims. Adult trafficking victims were granted a six-month residency permit, which was renewed if the victim found employment or had enrolled in a training program. Children received an automatic residence permit until they reached age 18. In 2008, the government allocated $9.41 million for 66 victim assistance projects; however, the government did not provide data on the number of trafficking victims who benefited from these projects or the number who entered social protection programs. According to the Ministry of Interior, the government issued 664 residency permits to victims who assisted in the investigation of their traffickers during the reporting period. The government ensured, through IOM, the responsible return of 81 trafficking victims in 2008. These victims were given $678 by the government for their repatriation, up to $2,168 for resettlement in their home country and reintegration assistance for six months. Article 18 stipulates for the identification and referral of trafficking victims to NGOs to care and assistance; however, the government did have stand-alone procedures for front-line responders to ensure this aspect of the law was being implemented among vulnerable populations in Italy, particularly within its legalized prostitution regime. The government provided training for police officers on victim identification and assistance and promoted training exchanges on best practices for experts and social workers every three months in 2008. Despite the government’s efforts to identify victims of trafficking, NGOs claim that some were still deported prior to being identified and assisted, such as Nigerian sex trafficking victims. Based on a 2006 independent commission report that the government’s victim identification measures for immigrants arriving in boats from North Africa were not fully effective, the government reportedly improved its process for identifying trafficking victims and it now allows international organizations and NGOs to inspect detention facilities and to interview migrants. Victims who file complaints against traffickers generally did not face penalties for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. According to the Ministry of Interior, approximately 400 children came ashore in Sicily in 2008 and were hosted by NGOs before disappearing; some may have been trafficked for labor exploitation in the agricultural sector.

The Government of Italy made adequate efforts to prevent trafficking in 2008. While it did not initiate any new awareness campaigns during the reporting period, NGOs continued to distribute government-funded materials that included TV spots, Internet banners, and bumper stickers in various languages during the reporting period. The government did not report any progress made on a planned 2007 public awareness campaign, called Project Pentametro, with several other countries to reduce demand for commercial sex acts and raise awareness about human trafficking. In March and April 2008 the Ministry of Interior released a radio and television awareness campaign specifically aimed at educating potential clients of the sex trade about human trafficking and publicizing the national anti-trafficking hotline. As a measure to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, officials in several Italian municipalities began fining clients of prostitution after the issuance of a national government decree in May 2008 authorizing mayors to prohibit street prostitution. In September 2008, the government launched a study on labor exploitation. The Italian Ministry of Defense regularly organizes training sessions on human rights and trafficking for both civilians and military personnel who serve in international peacekeeping missions abroad. The NGO ECPAT estimated that 80,000 Italian men travel to Kenya, Thailand, Brazil, Latin America and the Czech Republic for sex tourism every year. In November 2008, the government launched a program to fight child sex tourism that included outreach to tour operators and travel agencies. In May, 2008 the government sentenced an Italian man to 14 years’ imprisonment for child sex tourism offenses committed in Thailand and Cambodia. The government did not report that it followed up on a February 2007 case involving the arrest of a University professor in Naples for committing child sex tourism offenses while in Thailand.