Press Centre

Migrants Trafficked for Forced Labour Must be Identified and Protected

PRESS RELEASE: 10 June 2009

State agencies should work more closely with organisations on the ground

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) today said that State agencies must work more closely with organisations on the ground, to ensure proper identification and protection of people who have been trafficked.

Reacting to the launch today of the National Anti Human Trafficking Plan, Edel McGinley of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland said, “forced labour is happening across Ireland but remains largely unidentified by key agencies. MRCI is regularly encountering people in such situations, for example in domestic work or restaurant work. These workers are exploited and threatened to such an extent that they live in fear and are not free to leave. However, the levels of coercion are little-understood, and therefore not believed. As such, this problem is still not being identified by key agencies. We need a shared understanding by all involved of how trafficking manifests.”

She went on to say, “too often, victims of forced labour are identified as undocumented migrants who have broken the law, and are sent home without recourse to justice. We must double our efforts to ensure that the real victims of forced labour are protected, not criminalised. This requires close collaboration between NGOs, service providers and State agencies including the Gardaí, to ensure proper identification, as well as adequate protection and access to redress.”

“The National Anti Trafficking Action Plan will only be successful if there is a shared understanding of the indicators of the different forms of trafficking. Such a collaborative approach will ensure that all forms of trafficking are properly identified and tackled, and that victims of trafficking do not continue to be left in limbo.  Without proper identification,Ireland will end up deporting the very people it should be protecting and giving access to justice.”