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Italy-OSCE collaboration for international training in the fight against human trafficking

OSCE participating States have committed themselves to co-operating in combating common transnational threats and, in particular, in combating trafficking in human beings. The Organization assists participating States in this field through the Office of the OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, but also through the work of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE field operations.

Italy has always been at the forefront in supporting the OSCE in this area, which requires strengthened international cooperation and a coordinated and multidisciplinary approach. The practical applications of this Italian commitment include training activities for the development of skills and capacities in favor of national institutions and operators in other OSCE countries (police forces, labor inspectors, prosecutors and magistrates, but also civil society and social workers).

Thanks to the close cooperation with the Office of the OSCE Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Italy hosted several training activities, focused on an innovative, practical and inter-agency simulation exercise, at the Centre of Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU) of the Carabinieri Corps, an international training center established in Vicenza in 2005.

From 2016 to 2021, more than 600 professionals from 68 countries, including the OSCE Mediterranean Partners for Cooperation participated in the international training and ad-training sessions organized by the OSCE at the CoESPU. At the initiative of the Department for Equal Opportunity of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, members of the Italian Armed Forces also benefited from it.

The project, financially supported by Italy and other OSCE participating States (Monaco, Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria, Kazakhstan, Andorra, Belarus and Hungary), is now an international reality and has served as a model for other OSCE international simulations in Russian (in Kazakhstan in 2018 and 2019) and national simulations (in Albania, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine in 2021). Its methodology has also been promoted within the United Nations and recognized by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

In light of the success of the international simulations developed in Vicenza, the OSCE’s efforts are now progressively concentrating on strengthening national training courses, in support of the anti-trafficking department of the participating States concerned.

In 2022, the Office of the OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings launched a new project, also supported by Italy, to promote the adoption of the innovative training methodology developed in Vicenza by all OSCE countries requesting it (“to bring Vicenza to the world”). Through the implementation of this initiative in partnership with the OSCE, Italy has given concrete expression to a commitment at national and international level on the issue of combating human trafficking and other serious forms of exploitation of migrants.

The international training and education courses implemented by the OSCE at CoESPU aim at:

  • developing state-of-the-art investigative capacities and key indicators for the early identification of trafficked persons along migration routes;
  • conducting first-assistance operations oriented towards the respect of the victim’s rights and protection;
  • applying standard operating procedures when reporting presumed or identified trafficked persons to services dealing with assistance and support to trafficked persons;
  • making the best use of the tools offered by international police and judicial cooperation, in particular of financial investigations, to cope with this phenomenon.

Part of the training is delivered through realistic simulations of concrete cases of labor and sexual exploitation, against migrants, including minors. Each simulated scenario highlights the key elements of human trafficking (act, means and purpose).

Under the coordination of the OSCE and the Carabinieri Corps, judiciary and police officers as well as social workers, selected on the basis of relevant previous working experience, contribute to simulation activities. The promotion of a multi-agency and multi-level work, involving the various components that usually operate in the fight against trafficking, is essential to achieve effective results.

In addition, students of the Master’s degree in “Human Rights and Multilevel Governance” of the University of Padua (Department of Legal Political Science and International Studies) contribute to the development and implementation of simulations, including acting as the traffickers or the victims in order to make the participants’ experience interactive and as much as possible closer to their real work requirements.

The CoESPU of Vicenza can count on particularly experienced personnel for the implementation and management of the exercises, and on dedicated infrastructures specifically designed and built to carry out training activities based on simulated scenarios, such as a room called ‘MaGISTrA’ (Modelling and Gaming Information Simulation Training Area).

In the words of David Mancini, magistrate at the Anti-Mafia District Directorate of L’Aquila and expert appointed by the OSCE to coordinate the training, the project constitutes “a unicum in international anti-trafficking training, where the boundary between reality and fiction becomes increasingly blurred to the participants, thus providing them with the opportunity to test complex skills and protocols in a simulated environment”.