Modern slavery takes many forms and is known by many names: human trafficking, forced labor, forced or servile marriage, debt bondage, sexual exploitation, slavery-like practices, the sale and exploitation of children and more.
In all its manifestations, it is the systematic removal of the freedom of self-determination of one or more persons – for example, the freedom to accept or refuse a job, to leave one employer for another, the freedom to decide whether, when and whom to marry, how to relate sexually – in order to exploit them for gains by individuals or organized criminal groups, taking advantage of their vulnerable condition.
Exploitation, as the ultimate goal of human trafficking, occurs in disparate settings where vulnerabilities are exacerbated by complex phenomena (migration, war, persecution, poverty, climate crisis). Traditional forms of exploitation (sexual and labor in the first place) are joined by others that are less monitored, such as exploitation in forced criminal activities, just as the classic modes are joined by evolved forms through the use of advanced technological and communication systems.
According to the most recent estimates, in 2021 some 50 million people were living subjugated in conditions attributable to modern forms of slavery.
According to the Global Slavery Index of 2023 (produced by Walk Free Foundation with the collaboration of the International Labor Organization and the International Organization for Migration) since 2016 about 10 million more men, women, and children were exploited as victims of “new slavery.” The worsening situation has occurred against a backdrop of growing and more complex armed conflicts, widespread environmental crises, assaults on democracy in many countries, a global retreat in women’s rights, and the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These factors have caused significant barriers to employment and education, leading to an increase in extreme poverty and forced migration, which together increase the risk of all forms of modern slavery.
We encounter the reflections of these widespread human rights violations constantly and in various forms in our national context, where severe exploitation takes the form of dramatic events that engage the judiciary, police forces, and public and private social agencies on a daily basis. At the same time, vulnerabilities are taken advantage of by criminal organizations, which derive massive profits from human trafficking and related phenomena, which are subsequently laundered and reinvested, following the behavioral canons of mafias, old and new, domestic and foreign.
In the national and international arena, the judiciary and law enforcement agencies in general must adapt to and understand the complexity of the phenomenon, must update law enforcement strategies and interpretations of legal frameworks of reference, and must overcome stereotypes that often prevent effective action against trafficking and do not guarantee full respect for the rights of victimized persons.
An approach centered on people’s fundamental rights and the ability to work in networks, through integrated multi-agency methods, are now priorities that must inspire prosecutors and judges, both at the organizational level of offices and at the operational and decision-making level.
Rossella Marro, President of Unità per la Costituzione
Toni Mira, Journalist, Chief editor “L’Avvenire”
David Mancini, Chief Prosecutor at the Juvenile Court of L’Aquila
Global trends and strategies in countering human trafficking
Andrea Salvoni, OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings
Petya Nestorova, Head of the Anti-trafficking Division of the Council of Europe; Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Council ofEurope Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
Human trafficking as a crime against humanity
Rosario Aitala, Judge of the International Criminal Court
Judicial organization and action to combat human trafficking as a form of organized crime and to
protect victims’ rights: a national and comparative overview
Giovanni Melillo, National Anti-mafia and Counter-terrorism Chief Prosecutor
Hilary Axam, National Human Trafficking Coordinator and Director of Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, Criminal Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice
Lynette Woodrow, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor and national modern slavery lead for the Crown Prosecution Service (U.K.)
Roberta Collidà, Italian Liaison magistrate at the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of France and for the Principality of Monaco
Human trafficking in the Italian scenario. Gaps, findings and overlapping with migrations
Luca Masera, Full Professor of criminal law, University of Brescia
Links between international protection and fight against human trafficking. Good practices and judicial decisions
Francesca Nicodemi, Lawyer, Independent expert
Francesco Cananzi, Judge of the Court of Cassation, former member of the High Council of the Judiciary
Antonio Balsamo, Deputy Prosecutor General of the Court of Cassation
On. Chiara Colosimo, President of the Anti-mafia Parliamentary Committee
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