FIDH contribution to Italy’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights

Press release

On September 2016 FIDH together with Human Rights International Corner (HRIC), European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ) and Mani Tese, submitted a written contribution in the framework of the public consultation launched by the Italian government in the development of a National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

The signing organizations warmly welcome the release of the Italian National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights 2016-2021 and the process of stakeholder consultation. The purpose of this contribution is to provide recommendations that aim to introduce mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence and a higher degree of non-financial reporting obligations in national legislations. Focusing in concrete actions to overcome the main barriers to access to justice and remedies in cases of business-related human rights abuses.

With regard to recommendations addressed to Italy on the content of the NAP, the signing organizations have emphasized the following key elements :

1. In line with the UNGPs the priority should be to introduce mandatory human rights due diligence process.

The aim is to contribute to the alignment of the Italian NAP with the recommendations made by the Council of Europe, and the legislations that could be adopted in other European countries such as France. Reporting guidelines could facilitate the disclosure process.

2. The implementation of the NAP should mainly be based on regulatory measures rather than on voluntary initiatives.

Respect and promotion of human rights through binding regulations is more likely to be effective and efficient in the process of closing the existent governance gaps regarding corporate abuses. Furthermore, including reference to international human rights instruments such as the ICCPR and the ICESCR is fundamental.

3. To guarantee access to remedy for victims of corporate abuses the Italian NAP should explore several procedural measures that would facilitate judicial process.

This guarantees may include legislative measures to ensure that domestic courts can hear claims related to corporate human rights abuses, including the piercing of corporate veil or reversing the burden of proof by requiring companies to demonstrate they took all reasonable steps to prevent harm.

Beyond these general elements the contribution included specific recommendations concerning the measures contained in the Italian NAP to establish a Working Group under the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice and other legislative reforms of the judicial system.

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