NEWS RELEASE Wednesday 16 October 2013
Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) and activist Mohammed Younis will tonight (16.10.13) be presented with the SOLIDAR Silver Rose Award at the European Parliament in Brussels. This is the first time the Silver Rose has been awarded to Irish recipients.
Gráinne O’Toole of MRCI said, “We are honoured to be acknowledged for our work on social justice, particularly in the area of forced labour and rights for undocumented migrants. These are burning issues not only in Ireland but across Europe.””
Mohammed Younis, a victim of forced labour in Ireland, said, “I accept this award on behalf of all workers employed in dangerous and exploitive conditions. I have walked in their shoes. Undocumented workers need to be treated equally and be able to access justice – including getting back their stolen wages without fear of being returned home.” Mr Younis worked for seven years as a chef and endured forced labour in Ireland. He is currently fighting his case in the Irish Supreme Court for unpaid wages of €92,000.
Michele LeVoy, Director of PICUM, stated “MRCI is to the forefront in supporting undocumented migrants and forced labour victims to campaign for workers’ rights and legislative change. To ignore the exploitation of a worker because a work contract should not be legally valid (as in the case of Mohammed Younis) ignores the reality of existing work relationships and facilitates exploitation and abuse in a culture of impunity.”
Ms O’Toole concluded, “Ensuring high standards and conditions within labour markets must be a priority if all workers are to be treated equally. The European Parliament has an opportunity to ensure that the transposition of the EU Directive on Victims of Crime includes all victims, regardless of their legal status. Europe needs to step up its efforts to identify victims of forced labour and we would welcome guidelines from the European Commission on this.”
NOTES TO EDITOR
SOLIDAR is a European network of 60 NGOs working to advance social justice in Europe and worldwide. SOLIDAR voices the concerns of its member organisations to the EU and international institutions across the policy sectors social affairs, international cooperation and lifelong learning. More information here: www.solidar.org
Details of previous Silver Rose Award winners are available here: http://solidar.org/Silver-Rose-Awards-Past-Winners,512.html
Mohammed Younis endured seven years of forced labour in Clondalkin, Co. Dublin. His story is available in full here: http://www.mrci.ie/resources/publications/mrciupdates/seven-years-of-slavery-in-ireland-muhammads-story/
Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) campaigns for the rights of migrants, including undocumented migrants and victims of forced labour. In July 2013, campaigners celebrated the criminalisation of forced labour in Ireland.
PICUM (Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that aims to promote respect for the human rights of undocumented migrants within Europe. More information here: http://picum.org/en