Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) today called for a victim-centred approach to combating human trafficking in Ireland.
Speaking in advance of EU Anti-Trafficking Day, October 18th, MRCI’s Gráinne O’Toole stated "People need to realise that trafficking for forced labour is happening across Ireland in a wide range of sectors and workplaces. We have worked on cases in everything from domestic work to restaurant work to farming and circuses, and have uncovered trafficking in locations as diverse as diplomats’ homes and cannabis growhouses. What all of these cases have in common is that at the centre is a person, someone who needs time to recover, who needs protections such as health and psychological care, safe accommodation and secure immigration status so they can move forward with their lives."
"This year, we found evidence that people who were trafficked here to work in cannabis growhouses are potentially being imprisoned for a crime they were forced to commit. There is no better illustration of the lack of victim protections than this: not only is Ireland failing to support people who have endured human trafficking, but it seems we are actively criminalising and punishing them with long jail sentences," O'Toole concluded.
Mariaam Bhatti, who was trafficked to Ireland for forced labour in a Dublin home, said "Leaving a situation of exploitation and abuse is the first step. Without family or friends in Ireland, without papers, without security, it is almost impossible to move on with your life. Supporting and protecting victims will also help Ireland to prosecute perpetrators; when we feel safe, we are better able to talk about what happened to us, more able to speak for ourselves."
MRCI is calling for protections for victims of human trafficking to be put on a legal footing in Ireland as part of the transposition of the EU Directive on Supporting Victims of Crime.
Dublin, October 17 2014
Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) is a national organisation working for justice, empowerment and equality for migrants and their families, and is the only National Assessment Centre for victims of trafficking in Ireland. Cases of trafficking for forced labour came to the attention of caseworkers in the early days of MRCI’s Drop-In Centre ten years ago; since then, MRCI has dealt with over 200 cases of trafficking for forced labour across Ireland.
MRCI’s Forced Labour Action Group, which is led by people who have endured forced labour in Ireland, successfully campaigned for the criminalisation of forced labour in Ireland in 2013.