Muhammad was traumatised by all he had endured at the hands of his employer, but with the force of MRCI’s advocates and activists behind him, he began to fight for the 7 years of wages he was owed and for the rights denied to all victims of slavery. After 2 years, Muhammad was vindicated: the Rights Commissioner awarded him €92,634.42 in unpaid wages and compensation. This award was upheld by the Labour Court.
However, Muhammad’s employer brought the case to the High Court. He claimed he should not have to pay as Muhammad was undocumented and therefore the contract was illegal - so he should not have to honour it. Remember, it was the employer himself who had refused to renew Muhammad's permit and had used Muhammad's undocumented status to further isolate and threaten him. The judge ruled that as Muhammad did not have a valid work permit, he was not covered by employment legislation, and so he was not to receive a single cent in unpaid wages or compensation.
Muhammad Younis was brought to Ireland for the express purpose of exploitation; he was a victim of trafficking for forced labour. For 7 years he endured slavery, abuse and isolation. After all that, he was left with nothing and his employer got off scot-free.
In March 2012, having failed Muhammad Younis in every possible way, the Irish state informed Muhammed that it intended to deport him. Again with the help of MRCI, Muhammad appealed to the Minister for Justice and was granted Humanitarian Leave to Remain in Ireland.
One year later, there are 3 reasons to be hopeful:
1. Muhammad Younis has been granted leave to remain in Ireland, so he, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, and his solicitors can continue to pursue justice.
2. Last week, Muhammad travelled to Pakistan to see his wife and children for the first time in eleven long years.
3. And finally – finally – forced labour (the modern term for slavery) will be criminalised in Ireland when a bill incorporating the International Labour Organisation’s definition of forced labour is enacted shortly. When that happens, we’ll be celebrating with Muhammad and some of the other 180+ victims of slavery MRCI has encountered. To join our celebration, stay tuned.
Sadly, Muhammad's story is not an isolated case.
To support our work with people like him, please click below and give a gift of €15.