II. Premises

b) Italy and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)

“The NAP addresses the issue of the negative impact of business activities on human rights and identifies specific commitments with the aim of effectively integrating the UNGPs into the national system and business activities” and introduces limited objectives and actions, with reference to the national context translated into the following priorities:


2. The fight against caporalato (especially in the agricultural and construction sectors) and forms of exploitation, forced labour, child labour, slavery and irregular work, with particular attention to migrants and victims of trafficking.”

IV. Italian ongoing activities and future commitments

Irregular work and the agricultural sector

“Law No. 199/2016 on combating caporalato in agriculture has already achieved significant results: the Italian Government aims to fully implement the law, not only to repress the phenomenon but also to prevent it, as well as to strengthen the Network of quality agricultural work. To this end, on 16 October 2019, the Inter-institutional Steering Committee on Caporalato was set up, whose work led to the approval of the Three-Year Plan (2020 – 2022) in February 2020. This plan develops the national strategy to combat caporalato and labour exploitation in agriculture and obtained the agreement of the Unified Conference in May 2020.


It provides for an implementation strategy articulated in three different phases: an initial phase of analysis of the phenomenon, followed by emergency interventions in the most critical areas and then a systemic action that embraces the entire national territory. The latter is structured on four priority axes that concern: (i) prevention, (ii) vigilance and contrast to the phenomenon, (iii) protection and assistance for victims, (iv) their socio-occupational re-integration. For each of these axes, the Plan identifies priority actions (in a total of 10 actions of which 7 are dedicated to prevention) that involve, in a multi-level governance setting, the different administrations at central, regional and local level. The thematic priorities of the Plan were entrusted to six dedicated Groups, which were joined over time by two additional technical groups committed, respectively, to the development of the information system on the agricultural labour market and to the protection, assistance and socio-occupational reintegration of victims, both coordinated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies.

In 2020 a new working group was created within the Committee coordinated by the Directorate General of Immigration and Integration Policies of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies. It was dedicated to protection and first aid to victims of labour exploitation. The working group counts upon the collaboration of experts from the Department for Equal Opportunities of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, ANCI Reception and Integration System (former SPRAR), the Directorate General for the fight against poverty 20 and social planning of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, Regions, ANPAL, INAPP, INL, IOM and Consorzio Nova. The work of the group, which started in December 2020, continued in the first half of 2021 and, in particular, 7 meetings were held which led, in line with the objectives of the Three-Year Plan, to the development of a draft of guidelines on the identification, protection and assistance of victims of labour exploitation and a proposal to amend the concerned legislation (Arts. 18 and 22 of Legislative Decree No. 286/1998). The Guidelines were officially presented to Committee in its meeting of 27 July 2021, obtaining broad consensus. The working group also started an in-depth analysis over forms of support and compensation provided in the current legislation and of additional measures that could be issued to promote better protection of victims of labour exploitation.


The National Institute of Labour (INL) has launched extraordinary surveillance campaigns based on a multi-agency approach in some areas of Southern Italy (only in the agricultural sector) and of Central and Northern Italy (mainly, but not only, in agriculture) where the phenomena of forced labour and labour exploitation of migrants are particularly present. In order to implement these projects, special task forces were set up consisting of local inspectors, Carabinieri from the Labour Inspectorate Units, inspectors from other territories, as well as the aforementioned cultural mediators. The inspections were 22 planned in coordination with local authorities (Public Prosecutor’s Office and Prefectures) and with other supervisory bodies involved from time to time (INPS, INAIL, State Police, GdF, ASL…). The presence of the IOM cultural mediators, moreover, favoured the establishment of a relationship of trust between the inspection bodies and exploited workers, promoting their cooperation and also ensuring the activity of taking charge and protection of potential victims for the purpose of their subsequent socio-occupational reintegration (also through the paths provided by Arts. 18 and 22 of Legislative Decree No. 286/1998 – Consolidated Immigration Act).


In 2020 the INL has significantly implemented its counteracting action on caporalato and labour exploitation. It has also implemented action 8 “Strengthening of surveillance activities and counteracting labour exploitation” of the Three-year Plan to combat labour exploitation in agriculture and caporalato (2020-2022) and of aforementioned project initiatives based on experimentational approach. In particular, the INL has carried out and coordinated extraordinary surveillance campaigns in some areas of Southern Italy (in the agricultural sector only, with the project Su.Pr.Eme (funded by the EU Commission and supported by the project PIU’ SU.PRE.ME, for an amount of about € 50 million for the implementation of interventions in Puglia, Campania, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily) and Central Italy (mainly, but not only in agriculture, with the project A.L.T. Caporalato! project, financed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies for an amount of € 3 million for actions in the territories of central and northern Italy), where the phenomena of forced labour and labour exploitation of migrants are particularly diffused. In order to ensure the best possible organization of task forces in the geographical areas concerned, particular emphasis was placed on the activation of all useful coordination with the local Public Prosecutor’s Office and all appropriate institutional cooperation at territorial level with the Prefecture, the police and other supervisory bodies (INPS, INAIL and ASL). In order to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations and thus contribute to reducing the risk of accidents and preventing occupational deaths, all useful synergies have been activated within the Regional Committees pursuant to Art. 7 of the Consolidated Act No. 81/2008 and the Provincial Committees for the participation of ASL prevention technicians in the activities of the task forces. Finally, contacts were made with the IOM referents of each regional context and with the bodies and associations of the anti-trafficking network in territories involved to ensure timeliness and effectiveness of any interventions to take charge of and provide protection to victims of severe exploitation identified during the operations. According to collected data and constantly evolving, during 2020 in 44 weeks task forces took action in Basilicata, Campania, Calabria and Apulia Regions and in L’Aquila, Latina and Florence provinces: 758 inspections were carried out and 4,767 work positions were checked. As a result of the inspections (some of which are still in progress), to date, 1,069 workers have been identified as being involved in labour violations, 421 of whom were employed illegally, 205 potential victims of labour exploitation were identified and 22 perpetrators were reported to judicial authorities. INL inspection staff activities in the fight against caporalato and labour exploitation, despite difficulties due to the epidemiological emergency, have achieved the following results: – 478 offenders were referred to the judicial authorities, 61 of whom were arrested; – protection of 1,850 possible victims of the crime of caporalato and labour exploitation, 119 of whom are more exposed due to their non-EU citizenship status without a regular residence permit. In relation to the agricultural sector only: – 323 offenders were referred to judicial authorities, 43 of whom were arrested; – identification of 1,104 victims of exploitation, including 55 without a regular residence permit. The percentage of workers who are victims of labour exploitation in relation to the total number of irregular workers in the primary sector was by far the highest at 18.6%. On the other hand, taking as a reference the parameter of the number of irregular inspections defined in the year by the INL staff , in agriculture, an average of 37 exploited workers were found for every 100 inspected companies against which irregularities were contested. In 2021, in light of the significant results achieved the previous year also thanks to the extraordinary task forces of the two projects mentioned above, INL has further strengthened such inspection action on the territory through the scheduling of about 150 weeks of task force, with a commitment more than tripled compared to the 44 weeks of activities carried out in 2020. In addition, given the success of these experiences, on 11 March 2021 the INL and IOM signed a memorandum of understanding. Lasting two years, the memorandum is aimed at structuring the collaboration between the INL and IOM and extending multi-agency interventions to the whole national territory. It also takes into account the indications and objectives of the Three-Year Plan. On the basis of the lessons learnt, specific guidelines for the personnel employed in the surveillance operations on the territory are being developed within the Working Group coordinated by INL. (p.23)

Smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings

“The National Plan of Action against Trafficking and Serious Exploitation of Human Beings 2016-2018, implementing Directive (EU) 2011/36, is aimed at defining measures and intervention strategies for preventing and combating the phenomenon, as well as actions aimed at raising awareness, social prevention, emersion and social integration of victims. The Plan was articulated according to the following five key priorities: (a) identify, protect and assist trafficking victims; (b) intensify prevention of human trafficking; (c) strengthen prosecution of traffickers; (d) improve policy coordination and coherence among key stakeholders; and (e) increase knowledge of emerging issues related to all forms of human trafficking and provide an effective response. Given the complexity and multi-sectoral nature of the interventions, the Plan has provided for the establishment of a political-institutional Steering Committee, responsible for ensuring a multidisciplinary and integrated approach between institutional and private/social actors. It is flanked by a Technical Committee, composed of representatives of central and local government, law enforcement agencies, trade unions and third sector entities involved in the fight against human trafficking. Moreover, the Department for Equal Opportunities at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers is responsible for the data collection system SIRIT (Sistema Informatizzato per la raccolta di informazioni sulla tratta), managed and updated by the Veneto Region within the framework of the Agreement for the management of the service inherent in the “Antitrafficking toll-free number”. Given the persistence of the Covid-19 health emergency, the Department for Equal Opportunities introduced proper changes for public and private operators in charge of anti-trafficking projects. Taking into account the dynamics of trafficking in relation to confinement measures, the Department ensured the ongoing implementation of projects and by an ad hoc provision of 28 May 2020 established their extension until 31 December 2020, with a 7-months paid allowance worth over € 11 million. This approach was reiterated in order to further extend the anti-trafficking projects until 30 June 2021, while providing additional funding of approximately € 10 million. In 2021 the Department for Equal Opportunities has prepared a new call (Call No. 4/2021): it takes into account the changes some services have provided during the pandemic, but it will also be structured in such a way to respond to needs of operators. In 2020, the process aimed at drawing up the new Plan was started; to this end, both the Steering Committee and the Technical Committee were reconvened, within which 4 working tables were identified according to the four key directions prevention, prosecution, protection, partnership and cooperation. The opportunity to set up an ad hoc working group involving all the competent Administrations with the aim of strengthening the collaboration for data collection was shared. In particular, the new Plan will be based on the following key priorities: (a) improve the reliability and availability of data on trafficking, as a precondition for adequate monitoring of the phenomenon and better policy-making; (b) intensify actions to address trafficking for sexual exploitation, forced marriages, begging, forced crime, organ trafficking, sale of infants, all forms of labour exploitation; (c) address trafficking in the new context of the migration crisis (in fact, many victims of trafficking are involved in asylum application systems); (d) intensify the training of professionals who, in various capacities, have contact with victims, also in relation to the evolution of traffickers’ operational methods; (e) combat impunity for those who knowingly use trafficked persons; (f) strengthen efforts to prevent child trafficking for multiple exploitation purposes; (g) take further measures to improve the identification of trafficked persons; (h) facilitate and ensure access to compensation for trafficked persons; (i) continue to take measures to ensure that the return of trafficked persons is carried out with respect for their rights, safety and dignity and, with regard to children, in full compliance with the principle of the best interests of the child; (l) enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of investigation and prosecution activities. In the field of labour and social legislation, in the implementation of priorities of intervention provided in planning documents for surveillance activity, extraordinary inspection campaigns were launched to prevent and counteract the illegal phenomena of greatest social alarm. These include caporalato, and the exploitation of foreign citizens and their reduction to slavery through controls over production sectors and geographical areas most at risk, in close collaboration with enforcement law officers (Carabinieri, ASL, Guardia di Finanza, State Police). Although the prevention of contemporary forms of slavery and the protection of victims cannot disregard the fight against illegal phenomena and the restoration of legality, the most demanding challenge concerns the direct involvement of workers. This is especially in regard to those most exposed to the risk of abuse and oppression: they should be involved in training courses to know their fundamental rights, for a greater awareness of defense tools provided and encourage a relationship of trust with the institutions. It should also be noted that, if during supervisory activities the presence of illegally employed irregular foreign workers is ascertained, the inspection staff is required to fill out and deliver a form to inform the foreign worker of his/her right to unpaid wages and insurance and social security contributions and how to enforce this right, as well as to sanction and take restrictive measures against involved employers.” (p. 25)

ANNEX 1 – Accountability Grid and Assessment Tools for the Implementation of the NAP

“3. Strengthen the role of competent bodies and inspection activities in combating and controlling the emergence of irregular work and caporalato, pursuant to Art. 103 of the “Relaunch” Decree-Law No. 34 of 19 May 2020 (“Emergence of labour relations”).” (p. 61)

“4. Ensure the full implementation of the Three-Year Plan to Combat Labor Exploitation in Agriculture and Caporalato 2020-2022.” (p. 61)

“5. Develop new coordination measures in the activities of prevention and control of the phenomenon of irregular work and to encourage the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, Ministry of Quality: description of expected objectives and results achieved 62 operation of the “Network of quality agricultural work”.” (p. 61)

“6. Ensure full implementation of the National Action Plan against Trafficking and Serious Exploitation of Human Beings” (p. 62)

“13. Consolidate the commitment made at the national level with respect to international standards, in particular the Protocol relating to ILO Convention on Forced Labour of 2014 and Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3 (monitoring) adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe with reference to business and human rights.” (p. 63)

“14. Update the information on the current legislative framework to combat illegal work and labour exploitation in the agricultural, construction, manufacturing and service sectors.” (p. 63)

“54. Ensure an adequate level of resources dedicated to legal aid, and ensure access to free legal aid also for non-resident foreign nationals, in particular for irregular migrants who are victims of crimes committed by criminal organizations, such as trafficking in human beings, and enable them to report such crimes regardless of their status.” (p. 68)