December 2nd 2013: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
On Monday December 2nd, we’re marking International Day for the Abolition of Slavery by holding a conference on Identifying Victims of Trafficking for Forced Labour: National and International Perspectives. The conference will bring together victims of trafficking for forced labour, international experts, and national stakeholders to examine how Ireland can improve identification and protection of victims.
Check out the agenda HERE and email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your place at the conference.
SOLIDAR Silver Rose Award 2013
Forced labour activist Mohammed Younis and MRCI have been awarded the SOLIDAR Silver Rose Award 2013, recognising our social justice work across Europe. Mohammed said “I’m very honored to receive this award and I’m so privileged to be part of the ongoing collective struggle for rights and social justice.” A special thanks to PICUM CCME and to SOLIDAR, and a very special thanks to all in the Forced Labour Action Group for making this happen.
Forced labour (modern-day slavery) is now a crime in Ireland
Due to the tireless efforts of the Forced Labour Action Group (FLAG), a group made up of migrant activists and our many allies, we secured a change in the law – a crucial amendment to the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 which now allows for forced labour to be prosecuted in Ireland.
This campaign was set up to respond to the need to tackle the chronic abuse and exploitation of workers that MRCI was witnessing. Such cases involve people working every day for long hours for little or no pay, being threatened by their employers, their passports being withheld, living in virtual imprisonment and in fear. FLAG developed a briefing paper with the Irish Congress for Trade Unions (ICTU) on the problem and urgently-needed solutions. We presented this paper to policy makers and legislators. We performed street theatre, staged protests and undertook media work. We also held solidarity meetings with the Trade Union Movement and met with the International Labour Organisation, Irish governmental officials and politicians to inform and lobby for the necessary changes. Our efforts were rewarded when the law criminalising forced labour was passed unanimously by the Dáil on June 28th 2013.
British Irish Parliamentary Inquiry on human trafficking
MRCI provided evidence to the Inquiry body that trafficking for forced labour is on the increase in Ireland, but very few victims are identified and protected. To address this problem, a specialist agency should have powers to identify and protect victims of forced labour. The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) are well placed to fill this role. They regularly come in contact with workers employed in poorly-regulated employment sectors and have experience in uncovering exploitative employment situations. With greater powers they would be the best body to undertake this work.
MRCI also told the Inquiry that there are few rights for victims of trafficking for forced labour. Many victims are left in limbo for many years waiting for their cases to be resolved. Victims’ rights to protection must be made law within the upcoming Immigration, Residency and Protection Bill. This law is urgently needed. Speaking to the media after the event Fauziah Shaari, a victim of trafficking for forced labour in Ireland, stated “I suffered at the hands of my employer. I was treated as a slave. My passport was taken, I was not paid for my work, I was not allowed to go out of the house and I was threatened. I still have not found justice.”