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Country Profiles

Action Plan on Trafficking in Persons – Smuggling of Migrants

On February 26, 2016, the Council of Ministers adopted the  National Action Plan against Human Trafficking and  Severe Exploitation 2016-2018, in the implementation of  the 2011/36 EU Directive, which sets the minimum standards  for the definition of crimes and penalties in the context of  human trafficking and common provisions for EU Member  States. The plan aims to strengthen the prevention and  prosecution of crime and the protection of victims. The plan is  structured according to the five priorities identified by the EU  strategy: 

1. Identify, protect, and assist victims of trafficking 

2. Intensifying the prevention of human trafficking 

3. Enhance prosecution of traffickers 

4. Improve coordination between key stakeholders and policy coherence 

5. Increase awareness of emerging issues related to all forms of human trafficking and provide an  effective response.

In light of the complexity and multi-sectoral nature of the interventions, the plan envisaged  the establishment of a coordination group of a political-institutional nature. This ensures that a  multidisciplinary and integrated approach between the different actors, both institutional and private,  is adopted. The plan expired in 2018, and in 2019 the Ministry for Equal Opportunities and Family  started the d (iscussion for developing a new plan, involving NGOS, civil society organizations, and  UN agencies (IOM, UNICEF, and UNHCR). Please refer to the Action Plan Against Trafficking and  Serious Exploitation (Piano d’azione contro la tratta e il grave sfruttamento) for further information.  

Related plans of action  

  • National Action Plan to tackle labour exploitation in agriculture: Adopted on February  20, 2020 by the Inter-Institutional Committee on labour exploitation, the plan represents an  important shift towards a more comprehensive and multi-dimensional approach. It is structured  around four strategic pillars: prevention, protection, enforcement, and remedies,  including both immediate measures and long-term interventions. It takes into account  all the dimensions of labour exploitation in agriculture by fostering efficiency and organization  of supply chains, promoting decent work and economic and social sustainability, strengthening  labour intermediation, improving labour law enforcement and compliance, and protecting and  assisting victims, including through measures for their socio-economic inclusion. 

  • National Action Plan to combat men’s violence against women (2017-2020): The  National Strategic Plan, also refers to migrant women, refugees and asylum seekers and  implements: specific trainings on violence and health issues for migrant women for the first and  second line actors of the reception centers; trainings for the territorial commissions regarding  the investigation and referral of victims of violence; information and sensitization campaigns  for migrant women about the various forms of violence against women (e.g. female genital  mutilation, forced marriages, trafficking). 

  • The fourth National Action Plan for the Care and the Development of Children and  Adolescents (2016-2017) was developed by the National Observatory on Children and  Adolescents and adopted by a Presidential Decree on August 31, 2016. The National Action  Plan to Prevent and Combat Sexual Exploitation of Children 2015-2017 has been fully taken  into consideration in the framework of the fourth National Action Plan for the Care and the  Development of Children and Adolescents.

  • Italy’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (2016-2021) focuses on six  priorities, including tackling “caporalato” and other forms of exploitation, forced labour, child  labour, and slavery, with particular focus on migrants and victims of trafficking.

Institutional Framework

The institution/s in charge of identifying VOTs or traffickers  in the field

  • Local anti-trafficking networks exist in most Italian regions, involving a range of public  agencies and NGOs. In Catania, for example, the anti-trafficking network, led by the Anti-Mafia  Prosecutor’s Office (DDA), meets periodically with a view to adopting a multi-agency approach  to victim identification. In Tuscany, as part of the regional project SATIS, which is led by the  Health Service of Pisa and involves relevant local and regional services and NGOs, a regional  helpline has been set up. Regional authorities inform the national helpline about of all cases  of victims of TIP, including cases of sexual exploitation, labour exploitation (in the sectors of  agriculture, textile, and leather manufacturing) and forced begging. The project partners are also  involved in the identification of victims of trafficking among asylum seekers.  

  • From 2006 through 2019, IOM was present at landing points, hot spots, and reception  and detention centres to inform migrants arriving by sea about the risks related to TIP. It  also supported identification of the victims and referred them to the appropriate authorities as  indicated in the national protection mechanism. The national SOP applied in the Hotspots and  at landing points envisaged IOM role and was approved by the Italian Minister of the Interior in  2016. Since 2020, the end of the Aditus project corresponded with IOM ceasing to carry out  these activities. Apart from entry points, where IOM has a continued presence, NGOs conduct  outreach activities of VOTs for sexual exploitation on the streets. 

  • As part of the three-year National Plan to tackle labour exploitation in agriculture, IOM together  with national authorities and relevant stakeholders is implementing  two projects to strengthen  the capacity of labour inspectors to detect, identify, and assist victims of trafficking and/or severe  labour exploitation (i.e. Su.Pr.Eme. and A.L.T. Caporalato!). In particular, through a specialized  team of cultural mediators deployed across the country, IOM guarantees individual follow-up  with potential victims, referring them to the counter-trafficking network for protection when  needed. 

Agency responsible for border management and control of entry and  exit from the country 

The Polizia di Stato (Italian National Police) belongs to the  Department of Public Security within the Ministry of the  Interior. The department has several Central Directorates,  including the Central Directorate for Immigration and  Border Police. The Central Directorate’s border police  branch, Polizia di Frontiera, is responsible for border and  immigration management at land, sea, and air borders. The  Central Directorate is also responsible for aviation security at  airports and for readmission and forced return activities.

National Actors Addressing Smuggling of Migrants  

The Polizia di Frontiera (see above).

National Coordinating Bodies

On August 2, 2016, a Steering Committee (Cabina di  regia) was set up under the National Action Plan, led by the  Department of Equal Opportunities of the Presidency of the  Council of Ministers. The committee serves as a national  inter-institutional forum for planning, implementation,  and financing of measures to combat human trafficking  under the National Action Plan. It is chaired by the  Undersecretary of State in charge of gender equality and is  composed of representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, the  Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Education, University and  Research, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agricultural,  Food and Forestry Policies, the Ministry of Defense, the  Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the National Anti-Mafia Directorate, the Carabinieri Corps, the State Police, the Financial Police, and regional and local  authorities. NGOs and trade unions are invited to attend the Steering Committee meetings in a  consulting role. 

  • Within the Steering Committee, four working groups were established with a view  to ensuring the implementation of different aspects of the National Action Plan. They deal  respectively with prevention, protection, cooperation, and coordination between the protection  systems for asylum seekers and for trafficking victims. The working groups include representatives  of civil society and relevant international organizations (such as IOM and UNHCR).

Specialized Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants  (SOM) Unit

The Department for Equal Opportunities (DEO), which  is subordinated to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers,  is the governmental body responsible for coordinating and  implementing anti-trafficking policy, with the exception of law  enforcement and prosecution activities. Within DEO, the Office  for General and International Affairs and Interventions in the  Social Field is the entity responsible for anti-trafficking activities.  

This office represents the Italian government at the  international level and has a broad portfolio in the area of equal  opportunities, which includes the prevention of exploitation  and sexual abuse of children. 

  •  DEO manages the annual call for tenders through which  NGOs, in cooperation with the regional and local authorities, are selected to implement projects  for assisting victims of trafficking. 

  • DEO is also responsible collecting data on victims assisted through social protection projects,  which NGOs and other organizations enter in a computerized system called SIRIT (Information  system for the collection of data on trafficking in human beings). DEO also finances the national  toll-free anti-trafficking helpline (800 290 290), which is run by the municipality of Venice.


General Information

Italy continues to be primarily a country of destination for  trafficked persons, as well as a country of transit to other  destinations in Europe. Human traffickers exploit foreign victims,  and to a lesser degree domestic victims, in Italy. Victims originate  primarily from Nigeria and other African countries, Romania,  and other Eastern European countries, and include ethnic  Romani. The majority of sex trafficking victims are from Nigeria,  although more recently their numbers have decreased; however,  the government and civil society maintain that Nigerian women  and unaccompanied children remain extremely vulnerable  to trafficking because of the continued operation of several  organized Nigerian trafficking networks. Authorities report that  traffickers often encourage Nigerian victims to claim asylum to  obtain legal residency and facilitate their continued exploitation.  Traffickers frequently target unaccompanied children, who are  especially vulnerable to trafficking; children are exploited in child  sex trafficking, forced to commit crimes or beg, and forced to  work in shops, bars, restaurants, and bakeries. Ethnic Romani  children are at risk for trafficking, including forced begging and  child sex trafficking. Italy has an estimated 1.5 million unregistered  workers and 3.7 million irregular workers who are at risk for  labour trafficking, particularly seasonal workers in the agricultural  sector. Italy has approximately 600,000 irregular migrants, many  of whom are at risk of trafficking, especially due to government  restrictions on humanitarian protection and decreased support  for migrants, which took effect in 2018. Irregular migrants that  arrived by sea mostly originate from Tunisia, Pakistan, and the  Ivory Coast.

Main Trends and Figures

The authorities (Department of Equal Opportunities) reported 657 new victims identified in 2019  (72% Nigerian, 4% Romanian, and 3% Ivorian), an increase of 10% compared to 597 in 2018.  NGOs assisted 1,877 trafficking victims in 2019, an increase of 36% compared to 1,373 victims in  2018. Of those, 83% were female, 16% male, 1% transgender, and 3% children; 50% were victims  of sex trafficking or exploitation, 11% of labour trafficking or exploitation, and 39% of other forms  of exploitation. According to authorities, the number of unaccompanied children has steadily  decreased; in 2019, 1,680 unaccompanied children arrived, compared to 3,534 in 2018, 15,731 in  2017, and 25,846 in 2016.  

The rate of arriving refugees and migrants dropped precipitously in 2018 and 2019, due in part to  government policy tightening the intake of irregular migrants and the government’s assistance to the  Libyan Coast Guard. Italy received 23,370 irregular arrivals by sea in 2018 and 11,471 in 2019, many  through Libya. Between 2014 and 2020, 20,575 migrants died or disappeared on the three main  Mediterranean Sea routes. Between 2017 and 2019, the International Organization for Migration  (IOM) identified (at landing points) a total of 2,728 presumed VOTs.


Existing Mechanisms

Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrant (SOM) Hotlines

TIP/SOM- +39 800 290 290 (TIP) +39 1522 (GBV survivors)

Others (Children protection/ assistance) - +39 19696

*These hotlines are available free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

More information online can be founded at: 

Measures to Detect Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of  Migrants (SOM) Cases Along the Borders

  • As from 2006 until the end of 2019 IOM was present at landing points, hotspots and in the  reception and detention centres to inform migrants arriving by sea about the risks related to TIP.  It also supported identification of the victims and referred them to the appropriate authorities as  indicated in the national protection mechanism. The national SOP applied in the Hotspots and  at landing points envisaged IOM role and was approved by the Italian Minister of the Interior in  2016. Apart from entry points, where IOM continued its presence, NGOs carry out outreach  activities of VOTs for sexual exploitation on the streets. 

  • Through different teams of linguistic and intercultural mediators, IOM Italy supports the Italian  Border Police at disembarkations points, hot spots, land borders, and airports, with tasks ranging  from pre-identification, registration, and fingerprinting procedures; support to asylum seekers’  registration within the local police office; and assistance in the main airports (Dublin Regulation);  interviews with migrants and asylum seekers to gather information relating to people-smuggling/ trafficking networks; support to the regularization of irregular migrant workers and assistance  in the procedures related to permits of stay. The presence of IOM staff in the local police  headquarters also ensure that victims of TIP have appropriate access to asylum procedures or  are given special permits as outlined in the law. 

National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and/or Standard Operating  Procedures (SOP)

Existing Guidelines and SOPs: In 2017, the Ministry of the Interior and UNHCR published  Guidelines for the identification of victims of trafficking among applicants for  international protection and referral procedures, which are intended for the Territorial  Commissions for the recognition of international protection. The Guidelines provide a Standard  Operating Procedure (SOP), including a step-by-step explanation of the process, flowchart,  indicators, practical suggestions about how to perform interviews, model documents, and a list of  18 specialized anti-trafficking NGOs that run projects for the assistance of victims of trafficking.  According to the SOP, the identification of victims of TIP takes place in two stages: preliminary and  formal. Preliminary identification can take place before a person is interviewed by the Territorial  Commission, while he/she is still in a first reception centre. Alternatively, during the first interview  with an asylum seeker, the designated caseworker may detect the presence of indicators of TIP.

The National Referral Mechanism: The National Referral Mechanism for Victims of Trafficking is  a set of recommendations and practical measures that guide all actors involved on the necessary  steps in the fight against trafficking in line with existing standards of protection of human rights. It  includes a detailed set of SOPs consisting of measures to ensure adequate assistance to victims of  trafficking through the phases of:

  • identification 

  • first assistance and protection  

  • long-term care and social inclusion  

  • return and social inclusion  

  • criminal and civil proceedings 

Within the framework of the National Referral Mechanism,  which will be set up through the National Action Plan,  guidelines will be developed for identifying minimum  standards for reception and assistance of victims, as well  as for the definition of shared operating procedures. In this context, multi-agency memorandum  of understanding to address TIP cases will be signed, and further initiatives will be undertaken to  promote the regular and systematic training of professionals working in this field (police officers,  border police, immigration service officials, public prosecutors, lawyers, and the judiciary and judicial  staff).

Law Enforcement Agencies Responsible for Investigating Cases of  Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrant (SOM)  

Pursuant to Article 51, comma 3 bis, of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the prosecution of TIP  offences is the responsibility of anti-Mafia prosecutors. Under the Ministry of Justice, The National  Anti-Mafia Directorate (DNA) is composed of the National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor and 20  members of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, a judicial authority entrusted with directing  investigations. DNA is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the criminal prosecution of  organized crime, including TIP and slavery offences, by the 26 District Anti-Mafia Directorates  (DDA) across Italy. It also ensures the exchange of information between DDAs and data collection  related to criminal proceedings. Furthermore, anti-Mafia prosecutors play an important role in the  quaestor’s decision on issuing residence permits to victims of TIP.  

For the purpose of coordination, the prosecutor may make  use of the central services of the police forces such as  the Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate (DIA), the Special  Operational Grouping of the Carabinieri (ROS), and the  Central Investigation Service on organized crime of the Guardia  di Finanza (SCICO).  

Within each provincial police headquarters (Questura), there  is a criminal investigation team dealing with cases of TIP. The  ROS is mainly responsible for dealing with organized crime  and terrorism and for investigating TIP. The Guardia di Finanza  investigates TIP cases. The District Anti-Mafia Prosecutor Offices decides which service(s) should  investigate a given case and coordinates their cooperation.

Identity and Travel Documentation Investigation and Forensic Lab 

The Central Anticrime Directorate of Italian National  Police, Forensic Science Police Service (DAC-SPS) (The  Servizio di Polizia Scientifico) 

The Scientific Police Service (SPS) is a unit of the Italian State  Police that specializes in technical and scientific investigations in  the fields of chemistry , biology and physics , as well as technical  assistance for traditional investigations, including documentation.  At the central level, the scientific police service is organized in  a head office located in Rome within the Central Anti-Crime  Directorate of the State Police and in numerous peripheral  structures (14 Interregional and Regional Scientific Police  Cabinets).

Technical Working Groups 

Within the Steering Committee, four working groups were established to ensure the implementation  of different aspects of the National Action Plan. They deal with prevention, protection, cooperation,  and coordination between the protection systems for asylum seekers and trafficking victims. The  working groups include representatives of civil society and relevant international organizations (such  as IOM and UNHCR). 

For more details on the Steering Committee, see GRETA report (proposal 4,6 and 7) .

Agency in charge of Trafficking in Persons (TIP)/Smuggling of Migrants  (SOM) data collection and processing  

  • The Directorate of Equal Opportunities (DEO) collects data on the number of assisted victims of TIP  through the database SIRIT (Sistema Informatizzato di  Raccolta Informazioni sulla Tratta, the computerized system  for the collection of information on trafficking in human  beings ). The data is supplied by civil society actors and  public bodies running victim assistance projects. Funding  is disbursed by the DEO, extraordinary reception centres  (CAS), SPRAR system centres, the State Police (Railway  Police and investigative units), the municipal police, committees of citizens, Prefectures, Territorial  Commissions, IOM and counselling desks. The figures are disaggregated by gender, age, country  of origin, and form of exploitation.  

  • The Trafficking Observatory Project (Osservatorio Interventi has facilitated  the collection of data and reduced the previous double counting. The development and  implementation of this database will allow for an effective analysis of the issue and provide a  response to the multifaceted interventions. It signifies a great step towards the acquisition of  knowledge. The information that will be collected and the management on this phenomenon,will  serve as a tool for implementation of an effective policy against human trafficking. The new  data collection system SIRIT (Sistema Informatizzato di Raccolta Informazioni sulla Tratta) will  be financed through the project for the implementation of social assistance and protection of  victims of trafficking and exploitation, and co-financed by the DPO according to article 18 of the  d.lgs_286-98 and article 13 Legge_228-2003.  

More information can be found here: TIP Observatory (available in eight languages, including English,  French, Spanish, and Portuguese).

Protection and Assistance to Victims of Trafficking Agencies

Competent authority and mechanism used to officially identify and  recognize a person as a VOT

As envisaged by the Consolidated Immigration Act, there are two ways for victims at immediate  risk of retaliation to access to the protection system for VOTs: 

  • Judicial path: If the victim is willing to press charges against the traffickers and the judge considers  the declarations genuine 

  • Social path: If the victim does not want to press charges against the traffickers and is assisted by  IOM or an NGO

Cross-Border Cooperation

International Cooperation Agreements - Cross Border and  Extradition Treaties 

The National Action Plan against TIP addresses several aspects of international cooperation, in  particular prevention and action in countries of origin and support measures for countries of origin  in such areas as institutional reinforcement, improvement of living conditions, drafting legislation, and  supporting victims and persons at risk of TIP.  

At the regional and international levels, in addition to agreements with UN and the EU, Italy has  signed the following agreements:

  • The legal basis for international judicial cooperation is the European Convention  on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. A bill currently in the process of being  adopted provides for the installation of Joint Investigation Teams (JITs). The law, which is in the  process of being passed, establishes Joint Investigation Teams (JITs). Law S804-841, approved  by the Senate on April 6, 2011 and ratified in 2017, regulates the creation of JITs both at the  request of the Italian Public Prosecutor’s Office and when requested by the authority of a foreign  country. In the meantime, through the International Police Cooperation Service, Italy has taken  part in various investigation working groups and has had experience with the establishment  of bilateral operational protocols and cooperation mechanisms with Germany, France,  Switzerland, Romania, and Albania. Similar protocols are currently under implementation  with the Netherlands, Poland, and the UK.  

  • Italy uses international cooperation channels in TIP cases, notably via Europol and INTERPOL  contact points. Italy also takes part in the EU project “EMPACT” (European Multidisciplinary  Project against Criminal Threats), which focuses, inter alia, on organized crime groups involved  in TIP. In 2020, Italy and INTERPOL launched global countering project ‘Ndrangheta  (I-CAN) project. While the project will initially focus on specific countries, the ultimate goal is to  enhance the ability of law enforcement worldwide to more effectively identify and combat Mafiatype organizations.  

  • The UNODC PROMIS project was launched to increase international cooperation to counter  organized crime in West and Central Africa, a region facing a multi-dimensional security crisis, with a surge in terrorism, organized crime, maritime piracy, conflicts over resources, and all forms  of trafficking. PROMIS is active in five countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Mali, Niger,  and Senegal) and aims at strengthening the capacities of West African countries to develop an  innovative human-rights based approach to smuggling of migrants and to address human rights  violations related to irregular migration. Through the PROMIS project funded by the Netherlands  and Italy, UNODC in 2018 launched an innovative initiative to foster judicial cooperation through  the deployment of the two Nigerian prosecutors, first in Italy and then in Spain.  

  • Italy is a member state of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which has an office  in Rome and works in cooperation with the Italian Government on the Assisted Voluntary  Return and Reintegration programme. 

At the bilateral level, Italy has signed these agreements: 

  • Several memorandums of understanding, protocols, and declarations with the Romanian  authorities in the law enforcement and criminal investigation field. These agreements  cover migration and the fight against organized crime and include the fight against TIP as one of  the priorities. 

  • Nigeria is the source country for most of the victims of TIP identified in Italy. Consequently,  the Italian authorities have concluded several bilateral agreements with the Nigerian  authorities concerning coordination between Italian and Nigerian law enforcement  agencies, the creation of networks, and the provision of training to NGOs supporting victims. After two previous agreements in 2003 and 2009, a third agreement was signed by the Anti-Mafia Public Prosecutor, the Deputy General Director of Public Security, and the General Director of Criminal Police with the Nigerian National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) on April 28, 2010. It is focused on integrated interventions aimed at fighting TIP, strengthening the training of police officers and magistrates, sharing good practices and  operational strategies, developing information exchange, and updating the indicators of TIP. The  cooperation with Nigeria is also aimed at protecting victims and combatting organized crime,  with a special focus on training and data collection. It also envisages the social reintegration of  victims of TIP. 

  • DNA has signed memorandum of understanding with a number of countries regarding  trafficking. Recently, memorandums of understanding were signed with Libya and Egypt. According to DNA, it has encouraged District Prosecuting Offices to use strategic contacts  for nternational cooperation, including by making use of Article 34 of the EU Convention,  which provides for direct information exchange to allow a direct and dynamic approach to  investigations. DNA has sometimes been successful in activating parallel investigations through  bilateral cooperation with foreign counterparts. However, it pointed to difficulties with some  countries that are not parties to the Convention, in particular in Africa.  

  • Italy has signed agreements dealing with the readmission of third-country nationals with  Morocco (1998), Tunisia (1998), Algeria (2000), and Egypt (2007). No standard readmission  agreement has been concluded so far with Libya.  

  • Italy has also signed extradition treaties and agreements with the Vatican and the  following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Costa  Rica, Cuba, Germany, Kenya, Lesotho, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the  United States, and Uruguay.  

  • Italy has signed some multilateral treaties, such as the European Convention on Extradition (Paris, 1957)

Other activities on international cooperation  

  • Italy provided funding of 200 000 euros to UNODC for the Global Action against Trafficking  in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT), designated for the development of  strategies and policies against TIP in Mali and for protection systems for child victims of TIP and witnesses of crimes in Niger. Another project, Strengthening the Transnational Response  to Smuggling of Migrants and Maritime Crime in West, North and East Africa, aims to  increase international cooperation against the smuggling of migrants (2.5 million euros). 

  • The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) funds several international  projects that have elements linked to combatting TIP. PAPEV, the “project of support to the  protection of minor victims of human rights violations,” was implemented in 2017-2019 in  Senegal, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Mali, and Niger by the Office of the United  Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It aimed at developing an integrated  system for the protection and promotion of children’s rights at the national and local level. New  funding is envisaged to support Ethiopia in ensuring the right to identity to all children, with  a contribution of one million euros to the Federal Vital Events Registration Agency (FVERA), in  partnership with the Italian National Institute of Statistics. In selected countries of the Sahel  Region, the project CINEMARENA (worth 1.5 million euros) is being implemented with the  objective of informing public opinion through local and international media about the risks of  irregular migration and raising awareness regarding the vulnerabilities of migrants. 

  • The European hotline to report missing children 116000 has existed in Italy since 2009  and is managed by the NGO SOS -Il Telefono Azzurro ONLUS under a memorandum of  understanding with the Ministry of the Interior. It allows the reporting of cases of missing children  or children in a difficult situation requiring assistance to a multilingual switchboard operator. If  necessary, it is possible to involve local police offices. Furthermore, the European “Alert system  for missing children” has been operational since 2013 at the International Police Cooperation  Service of the Central Directorate of Criminal Police. The National Police also participates in, an international network dedicated to missing children run by the US-based  organization International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children

Transnational Referral Mechanism  

A transnational referral mechanism (TRM) does not currently exist.  

To learn more about TRMs, see IOM’s Transnational Referral Mechanism Model (TACT) project and  tool*

*IOM, TACT Transnational Referral Mechanism, financed by le fonds Asile, Migration et integration (FAMI) https://

Additional International Instruments  

Relevant National Legislation and Policies

Entry requirements 

  • All 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states and  Chad, Libya, and Mauritania: nationals require a visa and a valid travel document whose  expiration date is three months longer than that of the visa requested. 

  • Visa exempted: all European Union (EU) and Swiss nationals UK: exempted; As of December 31, 2020, the rules on travel will stay the same. 

  • For third countries please refer to Schengen Visa Info

National legislation 

In addition to the Council of Europe Convention on Action  against Trafficking in Human Beings, Italy has ratified the United  Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and the  Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons  (both ratified in 2006). Italy is also party to the UN Convention  on the Rights of the Child including its Optional Protocols on  the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography  and on a Communications Procedure (ratified in 1991, 2002  respectively), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms  of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol  (ratified in 1985 and 2002 respectively), as well as the following  conventions elaborated under the International Labour  Organization (ILO): Convention concerning the Prohibition and  Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of  Child Labour (No. 182) and Domestic Workers Convention  (No. 189). Italy is also party to a number of Council of Europe  conventions in the criminal field which are relevant to action  against TIP. 

  • Italy is bound by the EU instruments on action against  trafficking in human beings, in particular Directive  2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the  Council of April 5, 2011 on preventing and combatting  trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims,  Council Directive 2004/81/EC of April 29, 2004 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, who cooperate with the competent authorities, Council Directive 2004/80/ EC of April 29, 2004 relating to compensation to crime victims, and Council Framework  Decision 2001/220/JHA of March 15, 2001 on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings.

AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL: The national legal framework in the field of action against TIP has evolved  over the years in the light of Italy’s international obligations

  • Provisions concerning victims of TIP were introduced in the aliens’ legislation in 1998 through  Legislative Decree No. 286/1998,*  Article 18, which recognizes the right of the victim who  tries to escape exploitation to receive a residence permit (even without reporting the traffickers).  The residence permit lasts six months, is renewable, and gives the right to work and study. Moreover, victims have access to the protection system, which is funded by the Italian Minister  for Equal Opportunities and Family and managed by NGOs at the regional level.

  • In 2003, Law No. 228/2003 on “Measures against trafficking in persons” introduced  amendments to the Criminal Code, in particular Article 600 (“Placing or holding a person  in condition of slavery or servitude”), Article 601 (“Trafficking in persons”) and Article 602  (“Purchase and sale of slaves”), in line with the Palermo Protocol.  

  • Law No. 108/2010 on “Ratification and implementation of the Council of Europe Convention  on action against trafficking in human beings and provisions adjusting domestic law” and Law  No. 172/2012 on “Ratification of the Council of Europe Convention for the protection of  children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and provisions adjusting domestic law” led  to further amendments of the Criminal Code. 

  • On 28 March 2014, Legislative Decree No. 24/2014.** Transposing Directive 2011/36/EU  entered into force. The Legislative Decree No. 24/2014 provides, inter alia, for amendments to  Articles 600 and 601 of the Criminal Code, the adoption of a national anti-trafficking action plan,  the setting up of a State compensation fund for victims of TIP, and improved assistance to, and  protection of, victims of trafficking.  

Other internal legal acts relating to action against TIP include:  

  • Decree No. 394/1999 of the President of the Republic regulating the implementation of the  Consolidated Immigration Act, which established an inter-ministerial commission responsible for  implementing social protection projects for victims of TIP. 

  • Since 1998, Italy provides all victims of violence or severe exploitation whose safety is  endangered with a long-term programme of assistance and social integration, including a special  residence permit, without requiring the victim’s cooperation in criminal proceedings (Article 18,  Consolidated Immigration Act). This approach is recognized as a best practice in the field, though  a victims-centered approach remains a goal rather than rule. Moreover, in compliance with EU  Directive No. 52/2009, third-country nationals illegally employed in exploitative conditions are  issued a special residence permit if they make a complaint and cooperate in the related criminal  proceeding (Article 22, paragraph 12 of the Consolidated Immigration Act).

*Legislative Decree No. 286/1998 on “Consolidated text of provisions regulating immigration and the rules relating to the status of foreign  nationals,” hereafter “Consolidated Immigration Act”

**Legislative Decree No. 24 of March 4, 2014 laying down the transposition of Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the  Council of April 5, 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, replacing Council Framework  Decision 2002/629/JHA.

Existing Policies

  • Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR): Directive 2008/115/EC of the  European Parliament and Council of December 16, 2008 establishing common regulations and  procedures applicable in the EU Member States for the return of irregularly staying third-country  nationals was adopted in Italy by Law No. 129/2011 of August 2, 2011. The latter introduced  AVRR to the Italian set of rules on migration.  

  • Labour exploitation: The national legal framework against labour exploitation has evolved  over the years in light of Italy’s obligations under international law. Italy prohibits slavery (Article  600 of the Criminal Code) and trafficking (Article 601 of the Criminal Code) as defined at the  international level. In 2016, Law No. 199 criminalized labour exploitation as a stand-alone  offence. In particular, Article 603 bis of the Criminal Code envisages the prosecution of whoever  directly employs or recruits workers for third parties under exploitative conditions. The provision  includes some indicators for identifying cases of labour exploitation.

Legal assistance and victim’s compensation


Legal support is available for VOTs who ask for support.  

  • As stated in the legislation section above, a residence permit for VOTs who are at immediate  risk of retaliation from traffickers could be released according to the Consolidated Immigration  Act following one of two paths: 

  • Judicial path: if the victim is willing to press charges against the traffickers and the judge  considers the declarations genuine 

  • Social path: if the victim does not want to press charges against the traffickers and is assisted  by social services or an NGO Victims are at immediate risk of retaliation due to the will to escape from the traffickers. 


  • Six months, renewable for one year or more • Released only if the victim adheres to a protection and integration programme (withdrawn if  the victim leaves the program) 

  • Permits work and enrollment in the school system (including vocational training) 

  • Ensures the right to access the National Health System 

  • Can be modified into a residence permit for study or work, conditions permitted 

  • The recovery and reflection period provided for under the EU Convention is still not  expressly laid down in Italian law. According to Italian authorities, the “special support  programme” under Article 13 of Law No. 228/2003 on “Measures against trafficking in persons”  fulfils the purpose of the recovery and reflection period, as assistance is provided to victims  regardless of their cooperation with the investigation for a period of three months, which  may be extended by an additional three months.  

  • Special protective measures for children: The legal assistance was provided by IOM at  points of entry and is provided by the different actors managing the reception services. Legal  assistance is provided to children, if they are unaccompanied; they are always appointed with a  legal guardian.  


According to Legislative Decree No. 24/2014, VOTs are entitled to receive economic compensation  if the traffickers are condemned. Victims of TIP may file a request for compensation from the  perpetrator during the criminal procedure by bringing a civil action pursuant to Articles 74 and 75  of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The judge can decide on the amount of compensation due, rule  that the victim has a right to compensation without fixing the precise amount, or fix the amount of  an advance payment to be made to the victim. In the latter two cases, the victim has to bring a civil  action to obtain a decision on the final amount

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