Wikileaks - DCLX

Sunday, 04 September, Year 3 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu






REF: STATE 202745

1. (U) This is the 2007 Trafficking in Persons report for Italy. Answers are keyed to questions in reftel. The Embassy point of contact is Labor Counselor Candace Putnam, telephone: 39-06-4674-2327, fax 39-06-4674-2623.

2. (SBU) 27. A. Italy is a country of destination and transit for internationally trafficked men, women and children. There is no evidence that Italy is a country of origin. The Prodi government that was elected in April 2006 is actively increasing Italy's anti-TIP activities (see 27.C).

Both NGO and government TIP experts agree that the number of TIP victims remained stable in 2006. There were some increases in the number of prostitutes from China and South America. According to NGOs, a growing number of prostitutes from Eastern Europe are arriving and working voluntarily and thus cannot be classified as TIP victims. However, the EU-mandated closure of orphanages in Romania did result in an increase in the number of Romanian minors working as prostitutes. Other continuing trends include a growing role for women acting as recruiters and pimps for their countrywomen, traffickers moving victims more frequently between cities and countries, and a continuing decline in the age of prostitutes.

According to the Ministry of Interior there were approximately 3,000 TIP victims in 2006, a number consistent with estimates by PARSEC, the only social research institute that collects reliable statistics on TIP. PARSEC, which published an overall report on new trafficking trends in 2006, asserted that there are approximately 20,000 street prostitutes (overwhelmingly foreign); the Ministry of Interior (MOI) agrees, maintaining there are approximately 15,000 street prostitutes. Of these PARSEC calculates there are approximately 13,000 prostitutes active in apartments or clubs. Approximately 4,500-5,000 prostitutes move in and out of the country every year, especially in the summer; traffickers are also moving victims more frequently with stays in major cities like Rome or Milan for only a few months at a time. The percentage of minors has increased slightly to 7-10% of total victims with a drop in the age of Eastern European prostitutes. Minors represented about 15% of the total victims smuggled from Romania.

There are no specific statistics for other trafficking victims, including forced adult domestic or agricultural labor and trafficking in children; however, the Ministry of Labor is engaged in an effort to compile data on forced labor. Problems with forced labor occur primarily in the agricultural sector and mostly in the South. In one case that received wide press coverage, police freed 113 Polish tomato pickers in Puglia during raids that revealed prison-like labor camp conditions. Italian and Polish authorities exposed an international criminal gang which smuggled an estimated 1,000 Polish workers to Italy. Many of the victims, who responded to newspaper advertisements promising seasonal jobs, were forced to work at least 12 hours a day controlled by armed guards and received wages of only $1.25-$3.75 per hour. Trafficked children work primarily in the sex industry and as beggars. Overall, women and children are more at risk than men.

Sources of information include Government and NGO officials, research projects contracted by the Government and prepared by social research organizations, Government statistics and reports, international conferences, and media reports.

3. (SBU) 27. B. Persons trafficked to Italy primarily come from Nigeria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, and Albania. Other countries of origin include Russia, Bulgaria, China, East and North African countries and South America (Ecuador, Peru, Columbia, Brazil, Argentina). Greece and Cyprus increasingly are transit countries for victims trafficked from Eastern Europe. Sources report that most trafficked Nigerians enter northern Italy legally, via air, from other EU countries; the estimated cost of travel is approximately 5,000 euro. Victims from North and East Africa arrive illegally, via sea routes, especially from Libya, where the journey costs an average of 2,000 euro. Traffickers moving Chinese illegal

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immigrants are demanding passage fare of 7,000 euro. According to Government and NGO sources, organized traffickers are increasingly sophisticated in the way they routinely move victims between cities and regions within Italy, as well as between European countries. This mobility makes it particularly difficult to accurately measure the number of victims. Trafficking organizations continue to employ principally three north-south axes (focused along the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian coasts) and three east-west axes to move their victims.

PARSEC estimates that 35% of women involved in the sex trade are Nigerian. The vast majority of victims are Romanian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian and Moldovan. Data on the origin of victims who receive temporary resident permits and services provide a general sketch of the trafficking situation: In 2006, 927 victims received residence permits, down slightly from 942 in 2005. In 2006, health care, shelter and job training services were provided to victims from Nigeria (38%), Romania (30%), other former Soviet Union countries (11%), Albania (5%) and other countries (16%). Sources confirmed an increase in temporary (summer) traffic in prostitutes from Latin America who are believed to be TIP victims.

As the majority of trafficked victims in Italy are women and female children forced to work into prostitution, they face all the attendant risks of unsafe or unprotected sex, and few have access public health services. The majority of Nigerian women arrive willingly, often unaware of actual working conditions. Eastern Europeans often arrive on legal tourist visas in search of legitimate jobs but find themselves in debt and exploited by the co-nationals who loaned them money for the trip. Increasingly, however, Eastern European prostitutes are arriving and working voluntarily. Traffickers enforce compliance by seizing the victims' documents and subjecting them to imprisonment, beatings and rape.

4. (SBU) 27. C. The government recognizes the problem and has devoted significant resources to combating trafficking in persons. The previous Berlusconi government enacted legislation in 2006 to raise the minimum legal age for prostitution from 15 to 18 years of age. The Prodi government elected in April 2006 has increased Italy's focus on anti-TIP activities. Under the Prodi government, the Council of Ministers issued a decree to extend Article 18 benefits (job training, assistance) to TIP victims from EU countries and a pending law to establish minimum levels of assistance to victims of violence and allow NGOs to represent victims of trafficking in court. There is pending legislation to extend Article 18 benefits to victims of forced labor and to increase protection of women from violence. The Ministry of Interior has a new committee designed to better monitor and prosecute TIP crimes and has welcomed NGOs into the policy-making process.

The 2006-2007 "Operation Spartacus" campaign was aimed at stopping trafficking in persons and illegal immigration. The operation also focused on counterfeiting of documents, exploitation of illegal workers and organized criminal syndicates. It resulted in the arrest of 784 persons on charges of trafficking in persons and smuggling of illegal workers; 1,311 people were being investigated. Further investigations are underway on the subject of suspected visa fraud, although no arrests have been made to date. Our Ministry of Interior contacts report they are committed to prosecuting TIP cases but said that it was hard to meet the law's evidentiary standards, so in many cases authorities rely on immigration law to stop trafficking.

The police report that, in the past, a small number of Chinese prostitutes worked exclusively in Chinese immigrant communities but now they are present in massage and beauty parlors frequented by Italians. Although their numbers are growing, the authorities do not consider most to be victims. Nigerian minors continue to be subject to voodoo rituals, and police report that some Nigerian parents are selling their children into slavery. The number of prostitutes working on the streets is decreasing while the number working in private residences where it is more difficult to monitor or to assist victims is growing.

Operation Spartacus also revealed Rom children working as beggars. In a disturbing development, our sources report that the EU-mandated

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closure of Romanian orphanages had the unintended consequence of making many of these minors TIP victims. Because they are now members of the EU, these Romanians are sent to shelters for minors (vs. police-controlled immigration centers as in the past) where they are eligible for assistance. However, many simply run away before Italian NGOs can provide help. Government authorities neither condone nor facilitate trafficking.

5. (SBU) 27. D. Italy does not systematically monitor its anti-trafficking efforts. However, the Minister for Equal Opportunities is implementing a new monitoring system at national and regional levels. "On the Road", an NGO which assists victims, has created an independent observatory on trafficking funded by the European Union. Various Government agencies do collect national data on TIP arrests and prosecution, victims' assistance programs, illegal immigrants intercepted, issuance of temporarily residence permits, and calls to a victims' hotline. Most national funding is disbursed through grants to NGOs; regional and local governments also fund programs. However, there is no central mechanism for monitoring these activities.

6. (SBU) 28.A. The Government recognizes that trafficking in persons is a problem and has devoted significant resources to combating TIP.

7. (SBU) 28.B. In 1998, Italy established an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate the fight against trafficking. Government agencies involved include the Ministries of Interior, Equal Opportunity, Justice, Labor and Welfare (now split into Labor and Social Affairs), and Foreign Affairs, as well as an anti-Mafia prosecutorial unit. Regional and municipal governments are also actively engaged in efforts to combat trafficking. (See also 27.C.)

8. (SBU) 28.C. The Ministry of Equal Opportunity has the lead in funding public awareness programs. NGOs continue to distribute materials produced in 2004 and 2005, including brochures, posters, bumper stickers and TV/radio ads providing information and assistance to victims. A new ad campaign will be implemented in 2007. Equal Opportunity also established a toll-free hot line to provide information and assistance to victims and trained its operators. (TO BE UPDATED: Between January and November 2005, the hotline received over 73,000 calls, nine percent of which were from trafficking victims.)

In 2006, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) completed its outreach/information campaigns in Bosnia-Herzegovina (police training) and Bulgaria (campaign in schools) Hungary and Croatia. In 2005 MOI also distributed a new book for law enforcement officials on TIP laws and best practices for dealing with victims. Italy combats trafficking through its law enforcement activities and funds numerous national and international projects aimed at helping victims. Italy spent 6.8 million euro on TIP victims' assistance programs in 2006; 70% of victims' assistance was provided by the national government and 30% by regional and municipal governments.

9. (SBU) 28.D. The Ministry of Social Affairs (a new ministry under the Prodi government) funds programs for unaccompanied minors that include housing, social assistance and education and are implemented by NGOs.

10. (SBU) 28.E. The government funds and works closely with over 200 NGOs involved in anti-trafficking initiatives; many of these provide independently funded services for TIP victims. Under the Prodi government, NGO representatives are members of a Committee on TIP appointed by the Ministry of Interior to offer advice on prevention and enforcement of legislation. Both jointly participate in seminars, conferences, training, and outreach programs. NGOs do not hesitate to express their opinions, even when they disagree with government officials.

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11. (SBU) 28.F. With over 2,000 miles of coastline and geographic proximity to both North Africa and Eastern Europe, Italy has become a new frontier for illegal immigration. Between 50,000-70,000 illegal immigrants entered Italy in 2006, 22,800 of them from North Africa. Approximately 25,000 were expelled and 21,000 denied entry in 2006. The Government has responded with both bilateral and international initiatives to control illegal immigration. Italy successfully conducted joint border patrols with and provided immigration control training to Slovenia and Albania, efforts that dramatically cut trafficking flows across the Adriatic. It began a similar effort with Libya in 2003-04; according to the International Organization for Migration, this reduced considerably the number of illegal immigrants entering Italy from North Africa.

Following criticism of the previous government on the way Italy handled immigrants at detention/processing centers, the MOI appointed an independent commission to study complaints about discrimination and mistreatment. Based on the committee's report, the MOI intends to improve the screening process of illegal immigrants for asylum seekers and TIP victims.

12. (SBU) 28.G. The Ministry for Equal Opportunity leads an inter-ministerial committee charged with monitoring trafficking and coordinating government activity to combat it. Other members include the Ministries of Interior, Justice, Labor and Social Affairs, and Foreign Affairs, as well as a special anti-Mafia prosecutorial unit. In October 2004, Italy created a Public Corruption Task Force.

13. (SBU) 28.H. There is no national action plan to combat trafficking, although for the first time authorities are discussing the need for one. There is a national action plan for assisting victims. The inter-ministerial Committee Against Trafficking, led by the Ministry of Equal Opportunity, is responsible for coordinating policy at the national level. The Ministry regularly works with NGOs to coordinate and implement anti-TIP initiatives.

14. (SBU) 29.A. The most recent anti-trafficking law was enacted in 2003. It specifically prohibits trafficking in persons; trafficking previously had been prosecuted using other sections of the Penal Code. The law provides for increased sentences of 8-20 years' imprisonment for trafficking in persons and for enslavement. For convictions in which the victims were minors destined for prostitution, sentences were increased by one-third to one-half (to 12-30 years). The law applies special anti-Mafia prison conditions to traffickers that are designed to limit criminals' ability to continue their operations from jail. The law also mandates strong penalties (4-12 years' imprisonment; fines up to 15,000 euro for each alien smuggled) to combat alien smuggling and human trafficking.

15. (SBU) 29.B. See 29.A.

16. (SBU) 29.C. Forced labor is covered under the anti-trafficking law.

17. (SBU) 29.D. The penalty for rape or forcible sexual assault is up to 12 years' imprisonment.

18. (SBU) 29.E. Prostitution is legal in Italy and prostitutes may solicit clients on the street or make arrangements to meet in private residences. A law approved in 2006 raised the new legal minimum from 15 to 18 years of age. Prostitution is not formally regulated. Prostitutes do not face criminal charges for their activities, but authorities use other administrative regulations (i.e., loitering and traffic laws) to discourage their activities. The law does criminalize organized prostitution. Brothel owners/operators and pimps do face criminal charges.

19. (SBU) 29.F. Italy's anti-TIP law does not require the government to maintain statistics on prosecution; however, the Ministry of Justice is now providing national data on

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investigations, arrests, prosecutions and convictions. This data continues to lag behind the USG TIP Report's schedule.

Investigations and arrests: The Ministry of Justice has provided only partial data for 2006 which covers only 37% of jurisdictions. We will provide complete data as soon as it is available. (TO BE UPDATED: The number of persons investigated for trafficking increased from 1,861 in 2004 to 2,045 in 2005; arrests decreased from 341 to 304 respectively.)

Convictions and prosecutions: The slow pace of the Italian justice system creates extensive delays between arrests and convictions, but most trafficking defendants remain in detention during criminal proceedings. The MOJ reports on the number of court rulings acted upon; one case can include more than one person charged with multiple crimes. (TO BE UPDATED: Between 2004-2005, the number of lower court rulings decreased from 120 to 102 with 125 defendants convicted and 48 acquitted; the total number of convictions decreased from 77 to 50 respectively; the number of appeals decreased from 40 to 38 with 26 defendants convicted and 3 acquitted, but appeals were denied in 92 percent of the cases.)

20. (SBU) 29.G. Traditionally, trafficking victims from the Balkans and Eastern Europe are controlled by organized crime groups, frequently from Romania and Albania. Although Albanian groups continue to participate heavily in trafficking in Italy, their role as middlemen has diminished as Romanian, Moldovan, Bulgarian and Ukrainian crime organizations traffic in their co-nationals. Because the Albanian mafia is considered the most violent, a decline in their activities has decreased violent abuse of trafficked prostitutes. An unwelcome development, however, is the increased use of women from Eastern European acting as recruiters and pimps for their countrywomen. Women reportedly are considered by victims as more trustworthy interlocutors, and police are less likely to stop a group of women traveling together than a man and a group of women.

Nigerian prostitutes work individually or are controlled by a Nigerian madam, usually a formerly trafficked person, who holds the lien on the loan paid by the victim. Victims from Africa and the Middle East usually are controlled by small, freelance operators who generally smuggle individuals for a one-time fee. The police noted an increase in the number of Chinese prostitutes (See 27.C.).

Italian organized crime has not traditionally been involved in trafficking, except for providing logistical support and lodging. Routes and operations tend to follow established methods and organizations for moving illegal drugs, weapons and other contraband.

21. (SBU) 29.H. Italians use a full range of methods, including electronic surveillance and undercover operations, to investigate trafficking cases. Prosecutors report that telephone intercepts are the most widely-used tool in investigations. Plea bargaining is not allowed in Italy, but those convicted may receive reduced sentences if they cooperate with prosecutors. Article 18 of the Anti-Trafficking Law allows victims to receive a temporary resident permit. Investigators consider this a useful tool in obtaining cooperation and testimony leading to the arrest and conviction of traffickers.

22. (SBU) 29.I. The MOI has specialized training to sensitize police to the problem of trafficking, the difference between trafficking and illegal immigration, the need to treat victims as victims, and the special skills to investigate cases. In 2006 the European Union funded a program of training the trainers for magistrates, law enforcement agents and NGOs who work with victims of trafficking. In 2007 this initiative will be extended to include a large number of beneficiaries. In 2005, the Ministry of Equal Opportunity also printed and distributed a booklet outlining the provisions of the 2003 anti-Trafficking law and participated in training programs for magistrates and police officers. In 2005, the MOI also produced a book for law enforcement officers on TIP laws and best practices for assisting victims.

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23. (SBU) 29.J. The Government cooperates with other governments in investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases. In 2004, the anti-Mafia unit of the MOJ signed an agreement with the Nigerian MOJ to improve the exchange of information on investigations under the aegis of UNICRI (United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Institute), Italy actively participates in EU-wide initiatives to share information on law enforcement, especially cross-border crimes, but differences in legal systems, law-enforcement organization, and criminal statutes impeded cooperation.

In 2006-07, the Italian Central Operations Division of the Ministry of Interior's Anti-Crime Directorate cooperated with colleagues from Romania to conduct "Operation Spartacus," aimed at stopping trafficking in persons and illegal immigration. In 2005, Italian police worked with their counterparts in Greece, France, UK and Turkey to disrupt 90 members of a criminal organization that had trafficked more than 5,000 Kurds and other nationals from the Middle East. In 2006, Italian police, in cooperation with Libyan authorities, disrupted a 33-person gang (Libyans, Ethiopians, Bulgarians) accused of trafficking and smuggling illegal immigrants; of the 22 arrested, some may face charges of murder for killing two Nigerians who attempted to escape during a sea crossing.

24. (SBU) 29.K. Italy has not been asked to extradite persons charged with trafficking in other countries, nor has it had any cases requiring extradition of one of its own nationals charged with a trafficking offense. The 2003 law provides a clear new legal basis for such extraditions.

25. (SBU) 29.L. There is no evidence to indicate Government involvement in, or tolerance of, trafficking on a local or institutional level. Operation Spartacus, however, did prompt a new investigation into alleged visa fraud.

26. (SBU) 29.M. See 29.L.

27. (SBU) 29.N. Italy does not have a child sex tourism problem and, in fact, has a model Code of Conduct for the Italian tourism industry to combat sex tourism. Under the law, domestic courts may try citizens, and permanent residents who engage in sex tourism, including outside the country, even if the offense is not a crime in the country in which it occurred. In 2006, in the first case applying the extra-territorial aspect of the law against sexual tourism, prosecutors charged an individual for activities in Thailand in 2003-2005.

The law punishes with imprisonment and/or stiff fines crimes relating to child prostitution and child pornography, even when the offense is committed abroad. This law applies to Italian military/police participating in overseas operations.

28. (SBU) 29.O. In 2000, Italy signed and ratified ILO Convention 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forces of Child Labor. --Italy has signed and ratified ILO Convention 29 and 105 on forced or compulsory labor.

--In 2000, Italy signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography; Italy ratified it in 2002.

--In 200, Italy signed the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime; Italy ratified it in 2002.

29. (SBU) 30.A. Italy continued to expand implementation of the 2003 Anti-Trafficking Law (see 27.C). Article 18 of the Immigration Law provides for temporary residence/work permits that can lead to permanent residency and victims' assistance programs. Minors receive an automatic residency permit until they are 18. Adults who are identified as trafficking victims are granted a six-month

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residency permit, renewable if the person has found work or has enrolled in a training program. In 2006, victims obtained 927 temporary residence visas. The Government provides legal and medical assistance through NGOs as soon a victim has been identified. In 2006 the Department of Equal Opportunities allocated 2.5 million euro for an additional plan for emergency assistance to victims based on Article 13 of Law 228/03, and approved 26 projects implemented by NGOs. -- level. By February 23, 17,718 people were diagnosed with flu and respiratory illnesses in monitored cities, with children accounting for 40.53 percent. From February 12 to 18, a total of 64,269 people were diagnosed with flu and respiratory illnesses, a jump of 24.9 percent above the previous week.

10. Youth HIV/AIDS Information Center Opens in Mogilyov

On February 23, an HIV/AIDS information center for youths opened at the Mogilyov Center of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health. Founded in cooperation with the Belarusian Health Ministry and with financial assistance from the UN Global Fund, the center will offer advice and counseling and conduct education and training programs. The center will also serve as a venue for local youths to meet, discuss HIV/AIDS issues, and gain access to print, video and audio materials.
11. On March 1, while endorsing former opposition presidential candidate Aleksandr Milinkevich's call for street demonstrations on March 25, Belarusian Party of Freedom and Progress Leader Vladimir Novosyad predicted:

"I am sure that March 25 is to become a red-letter day of a calendar in Belarus. It is an extremely important date in our history. It is when independence of Belarus was proclaimed [in 1918]. We will show gratitude to our ancestors who had signed statutory documents

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that laid the foundation to Belarus' sovereignty. Independence is our most important value, without which democracy will not exist."


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