The Italian Response to Exploitation of Migrant Workers in the Agricultural Sector: Between Criminalization and Prevention

Italian Yearbook of International Law, vol. XXIX (2019)

22 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2020

See all articles by Silvia Borelli

Silvia Borelli

School of Law, University of Bedfordshire

Maria Chiara Vitucci

University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

The exploitation of migrant workers in the agricultural sector in Italy remains common. This is so despite the fact that, first, Italy has ratified the vast majority of instruments dealing with serious forms of labour exploitation at the international and regional level and has adopted legislation implementing its international obligations, by creating offences which criminalize practices amounting to slavery, servitude, forced labour and exploitation of labour, and second, that the interpretation adopted by the Italian courts of the relevant concepts appears to be in line with that of international bodies. Clearly, an approach which goes beyond the criminal law and includes measures of prevention is therefore needed in order to address the phenomenon of exploitation of migrant workers at its roots. In addition to structural deficiencies in the system of labour inspections, a major factor contributing to the vulnerability of migrant workers results from Italy’s immigration law and policy, which has as a result that the immigration status of many migrant workers is irregular, or at least precarious. Notwithstanding the existence of (narrow) paths for legal migration and special provisions for the regularization of victims of severe labour exploitation, the current legislation remains insufficient and ineffective in combating exploitation. Whilst recent legislation adopted to deal with the Covid-19 emergency specifically provides for the regularization of irregular agricultural workers already present in Italy, it remains an ad hoc measure which does not address the underlying systemic problems and is not a substitute for an approach to immigration control which puts the right of migrant workers not to be exploited at the core of the debate.

Keywords: labour exploitation, migrant workers, vulnerability, measures of prevention, forced labour

Suggested Citation

Borelli, Silvia and Vitucci, Maria Chiara, The Italian Response to Exploitation of Migrant Workers in the Agricultural Sector: Between Criminalization and Prevention (2019). Italian Yearbook of International Law, vol. XXIX (2019), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3700991 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3700991

Silvia Borelli (Contact Author)

School of Law, University of Bedfordshire ( email )

Vicarage St
Luton, LU1 3JU
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: ​ http://www.beds.ac.uk/departments/law/staff/silvia-borelli

Maria Chiara Vitucci

University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli

Italy

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