The government decreased law enforcement efforts. The 2003 Measures Against Trafficking in Persons law criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of 8 to 20 years’ imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. Article 600 of the penal code criminalized placing or holding a person in slavery or servitude and prescribed the same penalties.
In 2018, authorities investigated 314 persons for trafficking, compared to 482 in 2017. Police arrested 99 suspected traffickers, compared to 133 in 2017. The government indicted 139 defendants under the trafficking law, compared to 73 in 2017. Trial courts and appellate courts convicted 46 traffickers under the trafficking law, compared to 28 in 2017, and the government also investigated 340 persons under Article 600 for slavery, compared to 412 in 2017, and indicted 119, with 81 convictions, compared to 108 convictions in 2017. The government did not maintain a consolidated database on investigations, prosecutions, convictions, and sentencing of traffickers, or of their victims.
In a notable case during the reporting year, a court in Palermo sentenced a Nigerian defendant in December to life in prison for sex trafficking, by bringing victims from Libya, and for other crimes committed at an illegal migration camp inside Libya. This was the first extraterritorial conviction in Italy for trafficking and related crimes committed by a foreigner in Libya.
Specialized anti-mafia units handled trafficking prosecutions. Whenever investigators found clear evidence of trafficking, they referred the case to the anti-mafia unit, which triggered relaunching the investigation, extending the timeframe for prosecution and trial. To avoid this delay, non-specialized investigators and prosecutors sometimes charged perpetrators with crimes other than trafficking. Anti-mafia units prioritized investigations of criminal networks over individual cases, citing limits on available resources. The reduction in arrival and admission of irregular migrants by 80 percent compared to 2017 may have contributed to the lower number of investigations and arrests in 2018. High-level officials met with representatives from Niger, Libya, Tunisia, Sudan, Ghana, and Nigeria, but Italian prosecutors and police continued to cite insufficient cooperation in investigations from officials in source and transit countries.
Trafficking networks and gangs continued to grow more sophisticated and more violent, particularly Nigerian gangs linked to the Black Axe, Supreme Viking Confraternity, and the Eiye syndicate.
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Adapted from TIP 2019 by the U.S. Department of State