Press Centre

89% of Irish Public Support Criminalisation of Forced Labour

Forced Labour; Modern Day Slavery;

PRESS RELEASE: 9 November 20012

A Millward Lansdowne Brown Opinion Poll shows strong support for the criminalisation of forced labour, a form of modern day slavery. Despite this, the Irish government continues to drag its heels, a group of International Anti-Slavery experts were told at a meeting in Dublin today.

Klara Skrivankova of Anti-Slavery International stated that, ‘The reluctance of the Irish government to introduce a law against modern day slavery breaches its European and international obligations to protect people from this serious crime. The Irish public have come out in support of a law against modern day slavery and Ireland has a historic opportunity to eradicate slavery on its territory once and for all’

Gráinne O’ Toole of the MRCI said, ‘The fact we have no law in Ireland against Modern Day Slavery is leaving victims without protection and allowing abusive employers to get off scot free. Ireland is in an invidious position as a recent high profile High Court judgement stripped a modern day slavery victim, Mohammed Younis,[1] of his right to redress and compensation because his employment was considered ‘illegal’. In addition to not having any employment rights Mohammad does not have any protection as a victim of modern day slavery.’

Muhammad Younis said, ‘Everything has been taken from me. I have been left without any protection but the man who abused me walks free. He owes me €92,000. But the High Court said that he does not have to pay me. I will not rest until this injustice is addressed.’

David Joyce of ICTU said, “We cannot allow workers to be abused by employers and then profit from their inhumane acts. There is an immediate solution to this problem and the government have the power to the act. We are calling on the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, to stop dragging his heels and make modern day slavery a crime.” 


Background Information

The Millward Lansdowne Brown Survey was conducted in August 2012. A total of 975 adults were interviewed. 78% strongly agreed that forced labour should be criminalised in Ireland. 89% is the total percentage of people who agreed, either strongly, or slightly.

1. Forced labour is defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention (No. 29) concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour

"...all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily."

In effect, forced labour is a severe form of exploitation where a worker performs work against their will under threat.

The ILO has developed indicators to detect forced labour as follows:

  • Threats of or actual physical or sexual violence.
  • Restriction of movement and confinement, to the workplace or to a limited area.
  • Debt bondage: where a worker works to pay off debt or loan, and is not paid for his or her services.
  • Withholding of wages, refusing to pay the worker at all or excessive wage reductions.
  • Retention of passports and identity documents.
  • Threat of denunciation to the authorities.

2.  The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention No. 29(1930) and Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires forced labour be punishable as a criminal offence. There is no law in Ireland that makes forced labour a criminal offence.

[1] Amjad Hussien V’s The Labour Court. Notice Party Mohammed Younis August 2012.