This paper was developed by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Labour Exploitation Group (ICTU) and the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) to contribute to the debate as to how an integrated approach to tackling forced labour can be developed in Ireland. Forced labour is an extreme form of exploitation and is a growing problem in Ireland and at a European and international level. The economic recession is also creating the conditions for the growth of forced labour and exacerbates the problem of the identification of victims.
This paper is timely as the Irish government are considering the introduction of an offence of forced labour in to Irish law. The introduction of an offence in itself will be a significant development, however, it will not be sufficient on its own to tackle forced labour. 'Finding a solution to situations of forced labour is a huge challenge, as those who are in forced labour and the forms of coercion employed are constantly changing.'2 Our learning from international experience, and the recommendation from the International Labour Organisation(ILO), is that ‘action against forced labour, including trafficking, requires an integrated approach that blends rigorous law enforcement with prevention and victim assistance measures.'3 An integrated approach would contain the following elements:
- Criminalisation of Forced Labour
- Protections for victims of forced labour
- Mandating key responsibility to state agencies to tackle forced labour
Without this type of integrated approach, attempts to address this problem will be insufficient.