Ladies and Gentlemen,
human trafficking is an affront to human dignity and a gross violation of the human rights of victims, particularly women and girls. It has also become a major feature of transnational organized crime.
Because of its complexity, human trafficking demands a diversified and multidisciplinary strategy at the national, regional and international levels. We are therefore pleased by the attention the General Assembly has dedicated to this subject by adopting the Global Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons.
Italy aligns itself with the statement that will be delivered by the European Union. Let me just add few words to present what we are doing at the national level on this issue.
Combating trafficking in human beings and protecting the victims has been a long-term priority for Italy. Since the adoption of a comprehensive new immigration law in 1998, Italy’s main focus has been on prevention, demand reduction, victim support and protection, anti-discrimination measures, and strengthened law enforcement and judicial cooperation.
Our legal framework is victim-centered, human rights-oriented and gender- and child-sensitive. For example, renewable temporary residence permits are issued to the victims of trafficking for humanitarian reasons and can be converted into a residence permit for study or work purposes.
More than 2,600 foreign victims per year have taken advantage of this instrument since 2003, and in the past ten years, 68.7 million euros (92.75 million USD) have been allocated to first assistance and social protection programs.
Italy has recently funded targeted IOM/ILO projects to assist and protect trafficked persons, and to provide international practitioners with operational tools such as the IOM Handbook on Direct Assistance for Victims of Trafficking. Italy is leading technical assistance initiatives with China, Nigeria, and various European Countries to address trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation. They include research, stakeholder capacity-building and networking for the goal of improving cooperation in law enforcement and victim identification and protection.
We have made a major investment in assisting unaccompanied foreign minors. A special fund was created that in 2012 alone provided five million euros to municipalities to help them cover the costs associated with receiving unaccompanied minors into their communities. Let me add that these funds supplement those already available through North Africa Emergency to welcome migrant minors from this area. The Ministry of Labor has sponsored social and work integration projects to help unaccompanied foreign minors, guaranteeing their ability to remain in Italy until their eighteenth year.
Italy is firmly convinced that the fundamental instrument to tackle human trafficking internationally is the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto, in particular the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.
One of its main purposes is, “To protect and assist the victims of such trafficking, with full respect for their human rights.” An entire Chapter of the Protocol is dedicated to providing assistance to and protecting the victims of trafficking. The many measures it provides for range from physical, psychological and social recovery, to appropriate housing, medical and material assistance, employment, educational and training opportunities.
The binding nature of this instrument makes these measures effective. It also explains why our first task should be to improve implementation of and achieve universal adherence to the existing international instruments – including the conventions on forced labor, human rights, and the protection of women and children.
In our view the Global Plan of Action represents an extraordinary opportunity to mobilize our common determination and political will in this direction, raise awareness on this serious crime, and allow for better coordination within the UN system and between Governments, the business sector, civil society and the media.
Last but not least, Italy attaches great importance to the vital work against human trafficking carried out in Vienna, both by the Conference of States Parties to the Palermo Convention and UNODC.
We believe that these mechanisms and bodies best serve our common fight against human trafficking.