The Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) is in Ireland this week to assess the State’s efforts to combat human trafficking.
The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), which supports victims of trafficking and campaigns for stronger identification and protection of victims, has welcomed the visit as an opportunity to highlight ongoing problems.
In 2013, a GRETA report found flaws in Ireland’s identification of trafficking victims, noted the lack of prosecutions for trafficking, and recommended that the Irish authorities strengthen efforts to tackle trafficking for labour exploitation. Today (Wednesday 27 May 2015) GRETA will meet with stakeholders and expert groups, including the MRCI, to review steps taken by the Government to address these failings.
MRCI spokesperson Gráinne O’Toole said, “Trafficking for forced labour is a reality across Ireland – in restaurants, on farms, in private homes. While progress has been made, we know that victims are still not being identified, assisted and protected by the Irish authorities.”
Ms O’Toole continued, “GRETA’s 2013 report highlighted systemic failures to identify and protect victims. Unfortunately, in some ways the situation here has worsened since then. For example, we’re encountering more and more cases of trafficking for forced labour in cannabis growhouses. Right now there are 70 people of Chinese, Vietnamese and Polish origin in Irish prisons for cannabis cultivation offences. Any or all of these people may be victims of human trafficking, but no one has investigated their cases.”
Recent judgments in the High Court and Carlow Circuit Criminal Court have highlighted the State’s failure to identify and protect victims of trafficking for forced labour in cannabis growhouses, exposing a tendency to focus on prosecution, rather than protection, of potential victims.
Ms O’Toole concluded, “We hope GRETA’s visit will draw attention to the fact that potential victims of trafficking are spending long periods in Irish prisons – prosecuted for crimes they were forced to commit. While the recent establishment of a Human Exploitation Unit within An Garda Síochána is an important step, few victims are being identified and there have been no prosecutions for forced labour in Ireland.”
Aoife Murphy, MRCI Communications 01 524 1454
For more information on GRETA, please see http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/trafficking/Docs/Monitoring/GRETA_en.asp
GRETA’s 2013 report on Ireland is available at http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/trafficking/Docs/Press_releases/PR_IRL_en.asp