M. and Others v. Italy and Bulgaria
Court: European Court of Human Rights
Date: 1 August 2012
Purpose of exploitation: Article 4 (slavery)
The applicants, M. and parents, went to Milan following a promise of work in the villa of a Roma man of Serbian origin. M.’s parents alleged that six days later, beaten and threatened with death, they were forced to go back to Bulgaria, leaving their daughter at the villa.
The applicants complain that Italy has breached Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment), because the authorities did not prevent further ill-treatment by securing M.’s speedy release. They also complain about trafficking, based on Article 4 (the slavery prohibition) and about racial discrimination (Article 14, prohibition of discrimination).
The Court rejects all the complaints and finds just the complaint based on Article 3 admissible, and finds only a violation on the grounds of ineffective investigation. The Court agreed that the circumstances, as alleged by the applicants, could have amounted to human trafficking. However, the evidence submitted had not allowed it to establish whether their allegations were truthful. Consequently, the Court did not accept that the circumstances had amounted to the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons for the purpose of exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. Since it had not been established that L.M. had been a victim of trafficking, the Italian authorities had not been obliged to penalise and prosecute trafficking
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