Interview with Prof. Paola Degani, University of Padua

What will be the focus of the project?

For the next two years, the project, launched last December 15th, will specifically work on the crucial phase when victims enter into contact with law enforcement agencies or other professionals and therefore on the correct identification of minors and young people victim of human trafficking. Identification has always been crucial in a human rights perspective since it has most important repercussions on the entire pathway the person involved in severe exploitation will experience during the reintegration period.

The care of the person is developed on the basis of a personal project based on the specific needs of each minor by the professionals of the anti-trafficking system responding to the needs of the victim. It represents a policy design. Within this individual care project plan the objective is to develop a project oriented to the respect of the victim’s identity, qualities, expectations, skills and abilities everyone is endowed with. United Nations Guidelines underline the States’ duty to identify in a diligent way both the human traffickers and the victims; this means ensuring that the identification process is carried out through correct procedures which are adequate to achieve a result based on evidence. The expertise and sensitivity developed in the last years highlighted how a prompt and correct identification of a trafficked person are a fundamental step for the emergence of a victim and for anti-trafficking strategies finalization. On the other side they request the combination of different resources such as high professional investigators and the possibility to use a range of support facilities and services which are essential to ensure the victims adequate security and first aid for the protection of their rights.

How is the human right’s approach taken into consideration?

An inadequate evaluation in the identification phase can deny the victim of human trafficking of her/his rights or of other protections. This has already been acknowledged in the 2002 Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking finalized by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

How could an efficient response to victims of human trafficking be built?

Since public and social private institutions support the Police with their specific skills and role contribution, victims identification should no longer be an exclusive task of the Police law enforcement agencies. The contribution of such institutions is as important as the one of the Police since they work in crucial fields regarding minors, social distress, immigration, men’s violence against women, international protection and, of course, specifically in the field of human trafficking and other serious exploitations. It is important that all these different institutions collaborate because identification is a key step of the protection mechanism and, generally, of the whole support system to victims of human trafficking or serious exploitations. The N.E.x.T to You project re-launches the theme of identification addressing the inter-agency cooperation and the need to work with the victims focusing on their empowerment in the aim of a social integration meant to be preparatory for their full autonomy. Putting identification at the core of the work with victims of human trafficking, the project pursues to support 140 people among minors and young adults victims of serious exploitation. It aims to their social integration and their inclusion in the labor market increasing their resilience and helping them to overcome their traumas, cultural shocks and other psychological consequences which hinder their inclusion processes.


Paola Degani

Paola Degani teaches Public Policies and Human Rights in the Bachelor’s degree in Political Science International Relations and Human Rights and Women's Human Rights in the Master Degree in Human Rights and Multi-Level Governance at the Department of Political Science, Law and International Studies of the University of Padua. She is a member of the Board of the Joint PHD Board in Human Rights, Society, and Multi-level Governance coordinated by the Human Rights Centre of the same University. She was also a member of the Group of Experts of the Department for Equal Opportunities of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers appointed for the development of a database on gender violence and a member of the Regional Coordination Table for the prevention and fight against violence against women in the Veneto Region. In 2019 she was appointed as National Expert for the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence of the Council of Europe for Italy.

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