A still frame from a police video showing a recent operation against caporalato | Photo: ANSA/POLICE
A still frame from a police video showing a recent operation against caporalato | Photo: ANSA/POLICE

The United Nations want Italy to do more to prevent the exploitation of migrant farmworkers and to dismantle the illegal labor system known as "caporalato."

The UN's Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Urmila Bhoola, is calling on the Italian government to more effectively prevent the exploitation of migrant farmworkers. She wants Rome to put an end to the illegal labor system known as "caporalato." 

In a report released on Tuesday in Geneva, Bhoola said that despite the fact that concrete steps have been taken and progress has been made in Italy, the current situation isn't sustainable. 

'Migration policy has impact on exploitation' 

Bhoola visited Italy last year from October 3 to October 12. Back then, she said that migration policies have a direct impact on the "vulnerability of migrants to exploitation, forced labour and slavery."

According to the new report, about 430,000 workers in Italy are at risk of being hired through "caporali" or gangmasters each year. More than 100,000 of these people are expected to be subjected to serious exploitation. 

The majority are migrants from Africa, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, India, and Pakistan.

According to estimates, nearly half of irregular agricultural workers are women. 

Laws not implemented efficiently

Bhoola noted that the Italian government is taking concrete steps to face the exploitation of migrant farmworkers. She said in particular that Rome had established "a solid juridical framework that criminalises caporalato." 

She said if the existing laws and policies were implemented more efficiently, there would be no more labor exploitation. 

Insufficient coordination in tackling caporalato 

The report said the fight against exploitation in the agricultural sector has been inadequate, inefficient, and insufficiently coordinated. 

The report calls for structured policies to address these problems. 

Bhoola said that the Italian government, labor unions, civil society and the European Union should work together to "face the deep causes of exploitation in agricultural work by evaluating the way in which the food is grown, harvested, and distributed within the European Union."  
 

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