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Amnesty International Publications

First published in 2014 by

Amnesty International

Publications International


Peter Benenson House

1 Easton Street

London WC1X 0DW

United Kingdom


© Amnesty International Publications 2014 Index: EUR 30/007/2014 Original Language: English Printed by Amnesty International, International Secretariat, United Kingdom [ISBN:] [ISSN:] All rights reserved. This publication is copyright, but may be reproduced by any method without fee for advocacy, campaigning and teaching purposes, but not for resale. The copyright holders request that all such use be registered with them for impact assessment purposes. For copying in any other circumstances, or for reuse in other publications, or for translation or adaptation, prior written permission must be obtained from the publishers, and a fee may be payable.

To request permission, or for any other inquiries, please contact copyright@amnesty.org Cover photo: [Credit] Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 3 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights.

Our vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.

We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion and are funded mainly by our membership and public donations.

CONTENTS Introduction

Labour exploitation of agricultural migrant workers in italy……………………………………5 The problem: Failure to ensure justice for victims of labour exploitation.…………………..5 Protecting migrant workers who suffer labour exploitation: the employers’ sanctions directive and the Rosarno law……………………………………………………………………….6 Methodology……………………………………………………………………………………….7 The Rosarno Law put to the test..…………………………………………………………………..9 The EU employers’ sanctions directive 9 The Rosarno law 10 Residence permits for humanitarian reasons under the Rosarno law 11 The Rosarno law and the crime of irregular migration 13

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In January 2010, violent clashes between local residents and migrant workers in Rosarno, a small town in the Calabria region, brought, for the first time, the issue of the migrants’ living and working conditions to the Italian public’s attention. The economy of the area around Rosarno mainly revolves around agriculture, in particular citrus fruits. At the beginning of the picking season, hundreds of migrant workers gather in the area to work as agricultural labourers. When the clashes erupted, migrant workers in the Rosarno area were typically earning about 25 euros for a day’s work of 8-10 hours and living in disused buildings and makeshift shelters without running water, electricity or heating.

In 2012 Amnesty International conducted research on the human rights situation of migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Asia, employed in lowpaid, often seasonal or temporary jobs, mostly in the agricultural sector, focusing in the areas of Latina and Caserta. The organization first exposed their plight in a report published in December 2012. 1 Amnesty International’s research found evidence of widespread labour exploitation of migrant workers in the agricultural sector, including instances of severe labour exploitation. The organization documented, in particular: wages below the minimum wage agreed between unions and employers’ organizations, arbitrary wage/salary reductions, delays or non-payment of wages and long working hours.

Further, the research findings disclosed a causal link between labour exploitation of migrant workers and some measures adopted by the Italian government with the stated view of controlling and regulating migration flows. Amnesty International expressed concern that Italian migration policy increased the risk faced by migrant workers, especially those in an irregular situation, of being subjected to labour exploitation.



Under international law, Italy has the obligation to put in place an effective system to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of all migrant workers, including guaranteeing their enforcement. In compliance with several international instruments Italy is bound by (see Box below), as well as its own domestic legislation,2 migrant workers should be able to file a complaint when a violation of their rights occurs, regardless of their residence status, without fearing negative consequences.

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The right to seek and obtain an effective remedy for human rights violations is recognised under Article 2(3) and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), in conjunction with other Articles, and article 47 of the EU Fundamental

Rights Charter on effective remedies that states that:

“Everyone whose rights and freedoms guaranteed by the law of the Union are violated has the right to an effective remedy before a tribunal (…).”3 Referring specifically to violations of the right to work, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural

Rights clarified:

“Any person or group who is a victim of a violation of the right to work should have access to effective judicial or other appropriate remedies at the national level. At the national level trade unions and human rights commissions should play an important role in defending the right to work. All victims of such violations are entitled to adequate reparation, which may take the form of restitution, compensation, satisfaction or a guarantee of non-repetition.”4 Migrants who suffer human rights violations or abuses, both regular and irregular, should have access to justice and be able to report and/or file legal complaints without fear of deportation or repatriation. The UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families recommended


“States should establish effective and accessible channels which would allow all migrant workers to lodge complaints for violations of their rights without retaliation against them on the ground that they may be in an irregular situation.”5 Under the International Labour Organization (ILO) Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention of 1975 (No. 143), which Italy ratified in 1981, migrant workers in an irregular situation have the right to equality of treatment in respect of rights arising out of past employment as regards remuneration, social security and other benefits.6 This includes the possibility to claim such rights before a competent body.7 In its December 2012 report Amnesty International found that Italy’s legislative framework creates obstacles to access to justice for migrant workers who are victims of severe forms of labour exploitation and offers them inadequate protection. In particular, measures aimed at implementing Italian migration policy, such as criminalising irregular migration and charging labour inspectors with migration control enforcement, create obstacles to the enjoyment of the right of migrant workers in an irregular situation to seek and obtain a remedy for violations of their human rights.



In 2012 the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern at ‘the lack of appropriate legal protection for migrants, in particular

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against exploitation or abusive working conditions’ and recommended Italy to ‘amend its legislation to allow undocumented migrants to claim rights arising out of previous employment and to file complaints irrespective of immigration status.’8 In July 2012 Italy adopted Legislative Decree No. 109, known as the Rosarno Law, introducing some protection measures for irregular migrant workers victims of labour exploitation.9 The Rosarno Law was adopted in order to implement EU Directive 2009/52/EC (Employers’ Sanctions Directive)10 and stop the procedure opened by the European Commission against Italy for its failure to transpose it within the given deadline (infringement procedure). 11 Noting the importance of the EU Employers’ Sanctions Directive, the UN Special

Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, commented:

‘Although this [Directive] has been transposed into national law through Legislative Decree 109/2012, Italy must strive to ensure its full implementation, including effectively sanctioning Italian employers who abuse the vulnerability of migrants by paying them low or exploitative wages and forcing them to work in dirty, difficult or dangerous conditions’.12 Already in December 2012 Amnesty International pointed out some of the serious shortcoming of the Rosarno Law and severely called into question its real protective effect on the rights of irregular migrant workers. 13 At that time, however, the Law had been in force for only six months and its practical implementation could be evaluated only partially. What follows provides a detailed analysis of the ‘Rosarno Law’, as well as of the impact it has had on the protection of the rights of irregular migrant workers during the first 2 years of its implementation.

In this paper, Amnesty International expresses concern that Legislative decree 109/2012, generally referred to as the Rosarno Law, fails to provide effective protection to the agricultural migrant workers suffering labour exploitation of in Italy.


This paper is based on data collected from official sources and research missions to Caserta (Campania region), the areas around Latina (Lazio region) and Rosarno (Calabria region), as well as in meetings with national authorities in Rome, conducted in October-November 2013.14 Amnesty International met with several representatives of national institutions involved in the enforcement of the Rosarno Law in Rome, Latina, Caserta, Palmi and Reggio Calabria (Office of the Prosecutor, Questura). The interviews with representatives of national institutions focused on how the Rosarno Law had been

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implemented since its entry into force, how many residence permit were granted under the Law, and which challenges, if any, the institutions faced in its application.

Amnesty International also met the National Office against Racial Discrimination (UNAR, Ufficio Nazionale Antidiscriminazioni Razziali), the Office of the National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor (Direzione Nazionale Antimafia), national workers’ unions such as FLAI (Federazione Lavoratori AgroIndustria, Federation of workers of the agricultural industry) and CGIL (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro, Italian General Confederation of workers) and NGOs providing assistance to migrants (Africalabria, Centro Sociale Ex-Canapificio, Emergency).

Amnesty International would like to thank the migrant workers who shared their stories with the organisation, as well as all the experts, activists, trade union representatives and public officials who provided opinions and insights.


Amnesty International would like to thank the migrant workers who shared their stories with the organisation, as well as all the experts, activists, trade union representatives and public officials (Procura della Repubblica of Rome; Direzione Nazionale Antimafia;

Procura della Repubblica and Questura of Latina; Questura of Caserta; Procura della Repubblica of Palmi; Procura della Repubblica and Questura of Reggio Calabria) who

provided opinions and insights. In particular, the organisation would like to thank:

AfriCalabria Rosarno; Antonello Mangano; Marco Omizzolo; Chauhan Sarbjit; the staff of the FLAI-CGIL in Latina, Rosarno and Polistena; the CSA Ex-Canapificio.

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