GRETA, the Council of Europe’s expert group on human trafficking, is concerned by the lack of a national anti-trafficking strategy or action plan in Italy, and urges the Italian authorities to do more to increase public awareness and discourage demand as a root cause of human trafficking.
In its first report on the implementation by Italy of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, GRETA acknowledges that the country has taken a number of important steps to develop the legal framework and provide long-term assistance to victims of trafficking. It commends in particular the important role played by civil society organizations and networks at local and regional level.
However, the 22 September report highlights several challenges that remain to be tackled at national level in the various fields covered by the Convention.
GRETA stresses the need for Italy to urgently adopt a national anti-trafficking action plan defining priorities, objectives, concrete activities and stakeholders responsible for their implementation, to strengthen central coordination and to involve civil society organizations in the development, implementation and evaluation of anti-trafficking policies.
According to GRETA, more attention should be paid by Italy to trafficking for labour exploitation, a phenomenon which is on the rise, in particular in sectors such as agriculture, construction, textile industry, tourism and domestic service, as well as to child trafficking.
GRETA notes that no awareness-raising campaigns have been organised over the past few years in Italy and stresses the importance of information activities on all forms of human trafficking as well as prevention through education. It recommends that specific assistance projects and shelters for children victims of trafficking be created. Moreover authorities should ensure long-term funding for civil society organisations in charge of victim assistance projects.
GRETA is also concerned by the absence of national guidelines or agreed procedures for the identification of victims of trafficking. It urges therefore the Italian authorities to introduce a national identification and referral mechanism and to increase efforts to proactively identify victims amongst asylum seekers, irregular migrants and unaccompanied foreign children.
GRETA also calls on the Italian authorities to clearly define the recovery and reflection period in law, to systematically inform victims of trafficking of their right to compensation and to ensure that they have effective access to legal assistance. Victims should also be informed about existing programmes, and be protected from re-victimisation and re-trafficking.
Concerned by the low conviction rate for trafficking-related offences, GRETA urges the Italian authorities to strengthen the effectiveness of investigations and prosecutions and to make full use of the measures available to protect victims and witnesses of trafficking.
Read GRETA’s full report here
Background info on the Convention
The Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (“the Convention”) was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 3 May 2005 and entered into force on 1 February 2008.
It is a legally binding instrument which builds on existing international instruments, but goes beyond the minimum standards agreed upon in other international instruments and aims at strengthening the protection afforded by them.
The main added value of the Convention is its human rights perspective and focus on victim protection.
The Convention defines trafficking as being first and foremost a violation of human rights and an offence to the dignity and integrity of the human being; greater protection is therefore needed for all of its victims.
The Convention encompasses all forms of trafficking (national/transnational, linked or not to organised crime) and all victims (women, men or children). The forms of exploitation covered are, at a minimum, sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude and the removal of organs.
The Convention aims at promoting international co-operation. It is not restricted to Council of Europe member states; non-member states and the European Union have the possibility of becoming Parties.
The Convention is based on a co-ordinated and multidisciplinary approach, incorporating prevention, protection of victims’ rights and prosecution of traffickers. It contains provisions in each of these areas, placing obligations on States to take appropriate measures, in partnership with civil society and in co-operation with other States.
Another important added value of the Convention is the monitoring system set up to supervise its implementation, which consists of two pillars: the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) and the Committee of the Parties.
GRETA is composed of 15 independent and impartial experts chosen for their recognised competence and/or professional experience in the fields covered by the Convention. GRETA’s task is to evaluate the implementation of the Convention by the Parties. GRETA’s reports contain an analysis of the situation in each country regarding action taken to combat trafficking and suggestions for further action to improve the Convention’s implementation and deal with problems. The final report and conclusions by GRETA, together with comments by the national authorities, are made public and sent to the Committee of the Parties.
The Committee of the Parties is composed of the representatives in the Committee of Ministers of the Parties to the Convention and of representatives of Parties non-members of the Council of Europe. On the basis of GRETA’s reports, the Committee of the Parties may adopt recommendations to a Party concerning the measures to be taken to implement GRETA’s conclusions.