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I commend UNODC’s Executive Director, Ambassador Fedotov, for his presentation and the UNODC for its Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. Let me also express my appreciation to the previous speakers for their interventions. I am particularly grateful to Ms. Hong for her personal resilience and for her courage in sharing her story and in fighting on behalf of the many victims of this modern form of slavery.

The 2012 Report improves on the 2009 edition in both geographic range and quantity of data. This is a sign of greater involvement and awareness by Member States.

The Report provides a solid, credible set of statistics that deserve careful analysis. Allow me to make a few preliminary considerations based on a first read.

1) The Report clearly confirms that trafficking in persons is a global crime that involves nearly every country from every region of the world. The data is clear: between 2007 and 2010, there were victims of 136 different nationalities in 118 countries. No one is immune, and no one can go it alone in countering this shameful crime.

2) There is a huge discrepancy between the actual occurrences of such crimes and the judicial response. The number of prosecutions for trafficking in persons is very low, and the number of convictions – where there have been convictions – is even lower. Of the 132 countries in the Report, 16 percent did not register a single conviction. There are many different reasons why. Although 134 States have criminalized trafficking, in accordance with the Protocol, the new laws are often too recent to allow for sentencing.

3) As in the 2009 Report, the 2012 edition shows that most offenders are citizens of the country in which they were arrested. This would suggest that trafficking is mostly done by local networks that trade victims. But trafficking in human beings is often organized by criminals who conduct their illegal activities from other countries. The data collected by UNODC may thus be symptomatic of a critical lack of police and judicial cooperation. In its absence, law enforcement, judges and prosecutors restrict their investigations to their own national jurisdictions and thus limit the effectiveness of their action. UNODC’s role is crucial in helping Member States to improve their capacity in international judicial cooperation.
Let us take a careful look at this data. While domestic trafficking accounts for 27 percent of all detected cases of trafficking in persons worldwide, almost half of the victims were trafficked across borders of their region of origin (some 24 percent were trafficked inter-regionally). This data points to the national and regional levels as the areas with the most acute need for strengthening our response. Technical assistance and capacity building should adapt to this realty and give priority to a regional approach and the development of professional networks of police, prosecutors and judges between the countries most affected by the same trafficking flows.

4) The analysis of the UNODC is based on a large sample of officially detected cases of trafficking, and therefore did not use non-verifiable data. As the presentation has illustrated, this approach made it possible to assess patterns and trafficking flows in compliance with the General Assembly’s mandate in the Global Plan of Action. However, this also means these statistics underestimate the level of crime – which is much higher – and the number of victims – which is even higher. The risk of basing an analysis primarily on judicial statistics is that it might lead us to focus on repression to the exclusion of the other approaches to fighting this scourge. In Italy’s view the very complexity of human trafficking demands a diversified strategy: a strategy that involves not only law enforcement and judicial cooperation, but also prevention, demand reduction, victim support and protection, and antidiscrimination measures.

All these aspects are addressed by the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. The Protocol provides a broad array of protective measures to protect victims, ranging from physical, psychological and social recovery, to appropriate housing, medical and material assistance, employment, educational and training opportunities. This is why it is so crucial to strengthen universal adherence to and implementation of the existing international instruments, including the conventions on forced labor, human rights, and the protection of women and children.

The Global Plan of Action is an extraordinary opportunity to reaffirm the three P’s underlying the Protocol: namely, Prevention, Protection, and Prosecution. Italy is committed to uniting the membership around the implementation of all the UN instruments. As chair of the negotiations for the adoption of the annual GA resolution on crime, we have always advocated inclusion in the resolution of strong references to the Global Plan.

The Global Plan is also an invaluable tool for enabling better coordination within the UN system and between Governments, the business sector, civil society and the media. This is why Italy salutes the GA President’s appointment of Ambassador Monteiro Lima and Ambassador Sajdik as co-facilitators of the upcoming informal consultations to determine the modalities for next June’s high-level meeting of the General Assembly. Italy is ready to participate actively and constructively in this process and hopes that member States will seize this opportunity to benefit from the energies and ideas that can be brought to the table by international, regional, sub-regional organizations and civil society. Both the process and the results will be enhanced if we make this a truly common endeavor.