Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has announced an increase in punishments for those convicted of people smuggling and vowed to pursue and punish those involved in the global human trafficking trade.
Speaking at a meeting held in the Calabrian town of Cutro close to where an illegal migrant boat sank last month killing 72 people, Meloni said, “Our response to what happened is a policy of greater firmness on the ground,”
The Italian Government will implement sentences of up to 30 years imprisonment for those caught people smuggling even if the offences are found to have taken place outside Italian territory.
Meloni said that the best way to honour the memory of those who had lost their lives in the tragedy, some of whom were reported to be from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Iran, was to crack down on the criminals enabling such hazardous journeys.
“I believe that another way to fight people smugglers is to send out the message that it does not pay to enter Italy illegally,” she said.
At the meeting the cabinet also discussed establishing quotas for legal migration from countries “which work with Italy to crack down on traffickers and educate their citizens on the risks” of attempting crossings in vessels that are less than seaworthy and the use of people smugglers.
Meloni said the whole of the Italian government would work to enforce the new measures saying that the antics of people smugglers would not be tolerated.
She emphasised the importance of welcoming immigrants through legal avenues saying that the problem of human trafficking was an “international” problem and had to be dealt with through international cooperation.
Minister for Justice Carlo Nordio said that severe punishments would not only be extended to those who “organise, promote, and finance” people trafficking, but that those involved in the background support systems would also be targeted.
The tightening of the penalties under Article 12 of the Consolidation Act would mean that in circumstances where migrants were killed or injured attempting to cross borders a 20 to 30 year prison sentence would apply to smugglers.
These penalties would apply even if the death or injuries occur outside of Italian territory.
Nordio said if measures were not put in place to stamp out the financial boon enjoyed by people smugglers the number of victims of the human trafficking industry would continue to rise.