PRESS RELEASE: 21 October 2008
In the experience of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), forced labour trafficking is happening in Ireland, however it is still not being identified by key agencies. The fear and intimidation used by employers to exploit people for their gain are complicated and not widely understood. Many trafficked people find themselves without legal status in the country, and this is out of their control. It is important that undocumented people be treated as potential victims of exploitation, including forced labour trafficking.
According to Edel McGinley of MRCI, “people generally do not become undocumented by choice, it is often a result of exploitation, including forced labour and trafficking. It is vital that agencies who encounter undocumented people look beyond their status and give them the opportunity to come forward and seek help, and not be criminalised.” The government is currently developing a national strategy to tackle trafficking, however undocumented victims of trafficking will not be able to avail of any supports without first being identified.
Today’s awareness-raising campaign launch by the Anti Human Trafficking Unit is a welcome starting point for identifying forced labour trafficking in Ireland. However if the government is serious about tackling this problem, it must take a different approach to all undocumented migrants. Without proper identification,Ireland will end up deporting the very people it should be protecting and giving access to justice.