Prosecution of human trafficking in Italy (TIP 2023)

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The government maintained uneven law enforcement efforts.  Article 601 of the penal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of eight to 20 years’ imprisonment, which increased by one third to one half if the crime involved a child victim.  These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.  Authorities utilized additional penal code provisions to prosecute trafficking crimes.  Article 600 criminalized placing or holding a person in conditions of slavery or servitude, and Article 602 criminalized the sale and purchase of slaves – both prescribed the same penalties as Article 601.  Additionally, Article 600-bis criminalized offenses relating to child sex trafficking and prescribed punishments of six to 12 years’ imprisonment and a fine.

The government did not disaggregate between sex and labor trafficking for investigations, prosecutions, or convictions for Articles 600, 601, or 602, making law enforcement efforts on labor trafficking indeterminate.  In 2022, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) reported investigating 184 persons under Articles 600, 601, and 602, a decrease compared with 214 in 2021, 200 in 2020, and 323 in 2019.  The government prosecuted 95 suspects under articles 600, 601, and 602, a decrease compared with 121 in 2021, 106 in 2020, and 202 in 2019.  In 2022, trial courts convicted 66 traffickers and appellate courts upheld the convictions or overturned previous acquittals of 89 traffickers for a total of 155 convictions under articles 600, 601, and 602, a decrease compared with 204 total convictions in 2021 (81 trial and 123 appellate) and 175 in 2020 (80 trial and 95 appellate).  While the government did not report comprehensive sentencing data in a format that allowed for an assessment of the significance of sentencing, it reported the average sentence for traffickers convicted under article 601 was 9.6 years in 2022, compared with 9.1 years reported in 2021.  The government reported 79 final, unappealable sentences issued in 2022 for articles 600, 601, and 602 (68 in 2021 and 33 in 2020).  Of these final sentences, the minimum term of imprisonment issued was 18 months; two sentences were suspended.  The government confirmed at least 51 percent of convicted traffickers in 2022 received significant sentences of one year or longer imprisonment.  Law enforcement and courts continued to report that diverting resources to address pandemic-related crimes affected capacity to combat other crimes, including trafficking, while a significant increase in asylum claims due to a 56 percent increase in irregular migration further strained judicial capacity.

The government did not maintain a consolidated database on investigations, prosecutions, convictions, and sentencing of traffickers, or of their victims, a deficiency GRETA noted, though the MOJ and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs met regularly to improve data-sharing procedures.  Specialized anti-mafia units of prosecutors and judiciary police handled trafficking prosecutions; ordinary investigators referred cases with clear evidence of trafficking to an anti-mafia unit.  Anti-mafia units continued to prioritize investigations of criminal networks over individual cases, citing limits on available resources.  Non-specialized prosecutors sometimes charged suspects with crimes other than trafficking rather than refer the case to an anti-mafia unit to prevent delays in prosecution and victim assistance, as the specialized units would have to relaunch the investigation and consequently extend the timeframe for prosecution and trial.  Lack of a sufficient number of interpreters, especially for West African dialects, continued to limit law enforcement arrests and investigations, as well as diminish the benefits of investigators’ wiretapping capability.  Italian prosecutors and police continued to cite insufficient cooperation in investigations from officials in source and transit countries; with many transnational cases, this hindered prosecutions and convictions.

Law enforcement agencies received training on victim identification and investigation of trafficking crimes within their standard curriculum.  The government did not report details on the number of trainings for law enforcement and front-line officials in 2022.  In October 2022, a total 34 countries across Europe, including Italy, and supported by EU agencies and international organizations, took part in several large-scale coordinated actions focused on sex trafficking, forced begging, and forced criminality; the coordination actions resulted in the identification of 115 suspected traffickers and 910 potential trafficking victims.  The government provided training to foreign police on combating trafficking.  The government continued to provide funding to an international organization for an anti-trafficking project across Africa, part of which focused on improving international judicial cooperation between Italy and Nigeria.  In 2022, the national anti-mafia prosecutor’s office established a working group to discuss a memorandum of understanding with its Nigerian counterparts to combat trafficking.  Between 2017 and 2022, the government allotted €8.7 million ($9.29 million) to seven projects to combat trafficking in Nigeria, Niger, and other west African countries.

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The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking crimes.  In March 2023, a UN fact-finding mission in Libya report documented numerous crimes against humanity, including trafficking and slavery, committed by Libyan government or state-affiliated actors.  The report criticized the EU’s ongoing support to these actors and urged member states, including Italy, to ensure funds supporting the EU mission did not contribute to these crimes.  NGOs expressed concern about an MOU between the Italian and Libyan governments to address migrant smuggling in the Mediterranean, which was renewed during the reporting period.  The Italian government reported it conducted thorough checks in an effort to ensure that funds went to legitimate Libyan Coast Guard officers rather than to smuggling rings.

from 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – U.S. Department of State

2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – United States Department of State

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