ROME (20 September 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, today called on the Government of Italy to further boost and coordinate its national anti-trafficking response.
“Italy needs to rekindle its fight to end human trafficking, especially the unabated exploitation of the prostitution of foreign women and girls,” Ms. Ezeilo said* at the end of her official visit to Italy, from 12 to 20 September 2013, during which she examined the situation of trafficked individuals and assessed the impact of anti-trafficking measures in the country.
“The phenomenon of trafficking in persons in Italy is unfortunately growing in scale and traffickers are getting more daring in exploitation and abuse of their victims,” the human rights expert said, while acknowledging the authorities resolve to combat all forms of trafficking.
Sexual exploitation, especially involving women from Nigeria and Eastern Europe, is the most prevalent and documented form of trafficking in Italy. The Arab uprisings affecting Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria, has further exacerbated the problem of migrant inflow, smuggling and trafficking in persons for labour and sexual exploitation. Trafficked persons in Italy are international in character with a growing number from Latin America and Asia.
The expert noted that Italian legislation is quite comprehensive, and covers the phenomenon of trafficking in persons which is considered equally serious as mafia, terrorism and subversion crimes. However, she stressed, “The anti-trafficking measures initiated by the Government require continuing monitoring and evaluation if significant progress is to be made and the vicious cycle broken.”
Ms. Ezeilo recalled that preventing and combating all forms of trafficking in persons and protecting trafficked victims within Italian territory is the responsibility of the Government. “As such,” she said, “there is a need for a national approach and also in equal emphasis on combating all forms of trafficking not just sex trafficking.”
“There is a need to develop a comprehensive anti-trafficking approach based on 5Ps (protection, prosecution, punishment, prevention, promoting international cooperation and partnership), 3Rs (redress, recovery and reintegration) and 3Cs (capacity, cooperation and coordination), guided by international human rights law and standards,” Ms. Ezeilo said.
The Special Rapporteur’s visit to Italy took her to Rome, Venice, Turin, Palermo, Naples, Caserta and Castel Volturno where she met relevant national and local government officials, involved in the fight against trafficking in persons, as well as civil society organizations who are the backbone of the fight against this scourge in Italy.
“More importantly, I met with a large number of victims from Africa, Europe, Asia and South America, including women, girls and men benefiting from assistance or awaiting deportation,” she underscored. I also visited the Le Vallette prison in Turin and two Centres of Identification and Expulsion (CIE) for irregular migrants.
Ms. Ezeilo will present her findings and recommendations in a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council in 2014.
“I met and listened to sad tales of several victims of sex and labour trafficking across Italy. X, a 21 year old Nigerian girl travelled by plane from Nigeria transiting through Turkey, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia before arriving in Italy by train. Not only was she trafficked but was held in debt bondage as her father back in Edo Sate had put up his land as collateral for the payment of the 60,000 euros fee illegal contract to bring her to Europe. The young woman was moved from Turin to Milan and Paris to sell her body in order to repay her debt. She was rescued following a random identification check in Italy where she now benefits from assistance. However, X has to lie to her parents that she is being detained as they are asking her to send money and to ensure she keeps to terms in repaying her traffickers. The traffickers have continued to threaten her family back in Nigeria since her disappearance from their radar.’’
“I still recall vividly the traumatized face of an Asian woman victim of trafficking for labour exploitation who was forced to work in a sweatshop sewing all day. She was victim of violence by her so called boyfriend who exploited her during which she lost her sight and suffered severe injuries on her hand for which she underwent surgery and now recuperating in a shelter. Her determination to survive despite her traumatizing experience reminds us of a collective responsibility to bring succour to trafficked persons.”
(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13759&LangID=E
Joy Ngozi Ezeilo (Nigeria) started her mandate as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children in August 2008. She is independent from any government and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Ezeilo is a human rights lawyer and professor at the University of Nigeria. She has served in various governmental capacities and consulted for various international organizations. She has published extensively on a variety of topics, including human rights, women’s rights, and Sharia law. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Trafficking/Pages/TraffickingIndex.aspx
OHCHR Country Page – Italy: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/ITIndex.aspx
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