The paper provides an account of how, in judicial and administrative practice, legal practitioners have read and used article 18 of the Italian immigration law to protect the victims of labour exploitation. The Authors try to define the interpretations of this rule that have settled down in the national legal culture and their social impact. In particular, they analyse the debate on who is eligible for protection under article 18, what kind of protection it provides, and under what conditions. Then, they move to the external justification concerning the use of article 18 and to the rule that should be derived from it. In developing this advocacy aspect, the Authors try to create the assertability conditions of an interpretation of article 18 that allows its use to protect the victims of labour exploitation regardless of the legal name or the criminal relevance of the specific fact of exploitation.
Keywords: Labour exploitation; Victims; Protection; Migrants; Dignity; Act/law.