Institution Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy
Discipline Criminal Law; Human Rights; Migration Law; Business and Human Rights
Affiliations Member of the Research Centre “Federico Stella” on Criminal Justice and Criminal Policy – CSGP
Other links LinkedIn; ResearchGate;

Personal Bio

PC foto blackandwhitePaola holds a Master in Law by Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Italy), where she also obtained her Ph.D. defending a thesis on the prevention of labour exploitation, specifically targeting the agri-food sector. The roots of her interests in human rights law and the rights of vulnerable people are in her home country, where since 2012 she has worked as legal advisor in one of the paramount law firms in Milano, engaged in human rights protection against all forms of discrimination. There she learned that, in order for it to be helpful, scientific knowledge should always be fuelled by empirical evidence. Currently, she is working as Legal/Counter-Trafficking Field Specialist for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Italy.

Research Profile

Paola’s research focuses on the prevention of labour exploitation, specifically targeting the agri-food sector. Italy is at the centre of the reflection to provide for tangible examples within a global perspective, at the intersection of labour market and migration policies. A better knowledge of the phenomenon and its complexities has been the starting point for examining the ability of the current (intertwined) legal framework to deal with employers who breach the rules, from low-level non-compliance to serious criminality (i.e. slavery and trafficking). Accordingly, a preventive strategy has been discussed bringing the theoretical framework of responsive regulation (Ayres-Braithwaite 1992) into the research on labour exploitation, in turn conceptualised as a form of corporate crime. Building further on existing ‘good’ laws and practices, specific policy recommendations have been provided utilizing all fields of law. Such a hybrid criminal policy should start by strengthening society’s rejection to any form of labour exploitation, strategically rising to more punitive remedies for the purpose of building compliance (i.e. mandated self-regulation, administrative sanctions with ‘corporate probation’ and criminal law as last resort). In doing so, a main contribution has come from comparative analysis.

Paola is also engaged in a research project on the potential of recent migration and refugees flows connected with the Balkan route.


Territorial and Urban Potentials Connected to Migration and Refugee Flows 2018

How do Asylum-Seekers End Up in Hyper-Precarity? Insights from Austria, Finland and Italy


“Asylum-seekers and the ‘hyper-precarity trap’ in Austria, Finland and Italy” (with J. Schenner and N. Ollus), in Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, No. 25, 2019, 1, pp. 81-99;

“Blending together human rights due diligence with ‘criminal’ law: opportunities and pitfalls of the Italian solution” in A. Bonfanti (ed. by), Business and human rights in Europe. International law challenges, Routledge, 2019, pp. 122-132;

“Securing the Prohibition of Labour Exploitation in Law and Practice: Slavery, Servitude, Forced Labour and Human Trafficking in Italy, Spain and the UK” (with A. B. Valverde Cano and A. Weatherburn), in Journal of Modern Slavery, No. 4, 2018, 2, pp. 20-46;

“Forced labour and other forms of labour exploitation in the Italian agri-food sector: strong law, weak protection for migrant workers” in M. Borraccetti (ed. by), Labour migration in Europe – Volume II. Exploitation and legal protection of migrant workers, Palgrave, 2018, pp. 69-97;

“The crime of irregular entry or stay in Italy: vulnerability created or exacerbated by the law”, in Studi Emigrazione, No. 211/2018, pp. 465-478;

“Subjectivisme et objectivisme dans l’appréhension judiciaire des croyances et pratiques islamiques – étude comparative” (with Karim El Chazli), in Les religions et le droit du travail. Regards croisés, d’ici et d’ailleurs, Bruylant, 2017, pp. 451-481;

“The Italian legal framework against labour exploitation. A legal assessment, specifically targeting undocumented migrants” (ed. by), in Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, 25 July 2017;

“Where does our food come from? At the intersection of food security, human dignity and right to (decent) work”, in Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Sociali, No. 1/2016, pp. 85-98;

“Minori vittime di reato: tratta e forced labour”, in Studi Emigrazione, No. 199/2015, pp. 419-437.