Together Against Trafficking in Human Beings




All forms of trafficking in human beings are prohibited in Italy. The specific offence of trafficking in persons was introduced in the Italian Criminal Code (article 601) in 2003 by Law No 228/2003.

However, both before and after 2003, some cases of trafficking in persons have been prosecuted under the offences of 'slavery' (article 600 of the Italian Criminal Code) and 'trade of slaves' (article 602), which have been amended by Law No 228/2003.

As far as children are concerned, the Italian Criminal Code also provides for prosecution for trafficking in children under other offences such as 'child prostitution' (article 600-bis), 'child pornography' (article 600-ter) and ‘possession of pornographic material’ (article 600-quater).

Pursuant to the Italian Criminal Code, anyone who commits trafficking in human beings shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of 8 to 20 years. However, penalty is harsher if the offence is perpetrated against minors. Prostitution per se is not criminalised in Italy, but the act of procuring is a crime under article 3 of Law No 75/1958.

Article 18 of the 1998 Immigration Law establishes that six-month temporary humanitarian residence permits may be issued to foreigners needing protection and assistance. The residence permit is renewable for one year and may be converted into a residence permit for education or work. (For further information see under 3.2 - Assistance and support provided to victims.)

Italy complies with Council Directive 2004/81/EC (on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings or who have been the subject of an action to facilitate illegal immigration) in terms of assistance to victims (through art. 18 of Immigration Law and art. 13 of Law No 228/2003).

The Italian law does not provide for a reflection period for victims of trafficking, but all the victims participating for a three-month period in the programme envisaged by Art. 13 of Law No 228/2003 may not be deported and can therefore decide whether to participate also in the programme envisaged by Art. 18 of Legislative Decree No 286/1998 and, in this case, cooperate with the Italian judicial authorities. However, it is worth mentioning that obtaining a temporary residence permit in Italy is not conditional upon the victim’s willingness to cooperate with law enforcement or judicial authorities.

National Strategy/National Action Plan

In Italy, a complex structure for the assistance to trafficked persons has been in place since 2000. It works through three main tools:

  • Programmes for temporary assistance and long-term social protection
  • Free Helpline (Numero Verde Anti-tratta)
  • Programme for assisted voluntary return

Such a structure is coordinated and supervised at the national level by the Department for Equal Opportunities of the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers, which is the central public authority in charge of promoting and coordinating anti-trafficking policies and actions.

In 2014, with a view to implementing an even more comprehensive national strategy against THB, the Department for Equal Opportunities – in cooperation with all the national authorities committed to this issue and all other relevant public and private actors – will work on the development of a National Action Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings. Through an effective coordination among the Ministries, NGOs and associations involved, the Plan will be aimed at enhancing the governance of all national measures against THB and defining the effective cooperation among all national stakeholders involved in the protection of trafficked people and in the fight against THB. In particular, the Plan will focus on prevention, assistance and protection of victims, judicial cooperation, identification of potential victims, and adaptation of national legislation. The National Action Plan will also provide for the establishment of a national referral mechanism for trafficked persons, including minimum protection standards and standard operating procedures for the referral of victims to the proper service providers.

In addition, the National Action Plan will include guidelines on how to design and implement a sustainable system aiming to both prosecute traffickers and provide support to victims, while defining suggested roles for governmental institutions and the civil society. The Action Plan will be adopted by the Council of Ministers by the end of 2014 together with the Regulation on the single programme of emergence, assistance and social integration of victims of human trafficking and serious exploitation.

The projects for the assistance of trafficked persons co-funded by the Department for Equal Opportunities are implemented by NGOs which, in order to be eligible for funding, need to be enrolled in a dedicated public register. The register (Register of organizations implementing activities for immigrants – Section 2) is managed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies and is updated annually. 

However, not all organizations included in the list are implementing projects for the assistance to trafficked persons co-funded by the Department for Equal Opportunities.

National Rapporteur or Equivalent Mechanisms

Italy’s equivalent mechanism on trafficking in human beings is the Department for Equal Opportunities of the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Furthermore, since January 2011, the DEO has been acting also as the national observatory on trafficking in human beings. As such, it gathers documents and reports on THB, information on the national and international legal framework, as well as reference documents and judgments on a specific website providing a secure area on data collection where registered NGOs and local authorities working in this field can have access to enter information on trafficked persons assisted within the framework of the national assistance programmes co-funded by the State. As Italy’s equivalent mechanism, the Department for Equal Opportunities of the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers uses a special database (the so-called SIRIT – Sistema Informatizzato di Raccolta Informazioni sulla Tratta – Computerized system for the collection of information on trafficking in human beings) to monitor the phenomenon. 

Section Member States
TOC Heading