Concerns Over “Deficit in Protection” for Victims of Human Trafficking

A Council of Europe evaluation of Ireland’s action against trafficking in human beings is to be told that the State is failing to act to sufficiently protect trafficking victims in Ireland. With the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“The Commission”) pointing to a “deficit in the protection of, and assistance provided to victims of trafficking in human beings”

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, which used its statutory legal powers as Ireland’s National Human Rights Institution, to spotlight human trafficking issues in the significant ‘P Case’ of a Vietnamese woman arrested in Ireland, meets tomorrow (Friday) with Rapporteurs from the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA).

The meeting will see the Commission raise key concerns over how victims of trafficking are identified, protected and supported. Reform of the system for the early and proactive identification of victims of trafficking in human beings is long overdue. While the Government has committed to a fundamental review of the system for identification, the Commission is concerned that delays in operationalising the required reforms could result in unidentified victims being subject to further human rights violations.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“Trafficking in human beings is an insidious form of exploitation, which goes on behind closed doors with forced labour and other exploitation imposed on victims, who are often vulnerable women and children, drawn by the promise of a better life.

“It is critically important that the State take steps to ensure an appropriate system is in place to identify and protect victims of trafficking both during investigations, and in any subsequent criminal proceedings, and that the proper support, advice and protection for victims is in place.

“The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has taken a leading role in using our legal powers to shine a spotlight on the clandestine practice of trafficking in human beings in Ireland, and we will continue to ensure Ireland operates in line with international best practice in protecting victims and seeking to prosecute those who perpetrate trafficking.”

Among the 35 individual recommendations set out for State action by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission are that:

  • Mechanisms to identify victims of trafficking are revised, without further delay to ensure that rights to assistance and protection are available to all potential victims. Identification as a victim of trafficking should be carried out separately from any investigation of involvement in criminal activity.
  • Assistance and protection for victims of trafficking be put on a clear statutory basis with early legal support and information.
  • The State criminalise the use of services which are the object of Labour exploitation, for example in subcontracting or supply chains.
  • Labour inspections must be properly resourced, frequent and targeted at vulnerable sectors.
  • Training should be provided to key personnel in the identification of potential victims.
  • Direct Provision Centres should not be used to accommodate victims of trafficking with a need to provide appropriate accommodation.
  • The State should address obstacles to prosecuting perpetrators of trafficking persons for labour exploitation and forced criminality.
  • An independent National Rapporteur be appointed to monitor trafficking issues and ensure the State’s compliance with key human rights obligations.

In particular, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission will raise directly with the Council of Europe Rapporteurs, the steps necessary to address child trafficking, recommending that the special measures be taken to identify and appropriately assess child victims of trafficking and that a specialist legal network be introduced to provide advice to victims of child trafficking.

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Notes to editor:

The full submission is available at the following link, with the core recommendations summed up in pages 5-8;

 https://www.ihrec.ie/app/uploads/2016/12/IHREC-Submission-to-GRETA-2016.pdf

The ‘P Case’

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (’the Commission’) appeared before the High Court as amicus curiae (friend of the Court) in the judicial review proceedings entitled P. v. Chief Superintendent of the Garda National Immigration Bureau & Ors [2015] IEHC 222.

The case concerned a Vietnamese woman who was discovered by the Gardaí locked in a cannabis “grow house” and who was charged with drugs offences. The woman claimed she was a victim of trafficking and that the failure of the Garda to recognise this deprived her of her right to avail of the protection regime for such victims.

The Commission’s submissions in the case questioned the adequacy of the protection regime for persons who claim to be victims of human trafficking and, in particular, the administrative scheme for the identification of such victims, and whether it met relevant human rights standards. The Court found that the State’s administrative scheme for the recognition and protection of victims of human trafficking was inadequate to meet its obligations under EU law aimed at combatting trafficking in human beings.

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission was set up on 1 November 2014 as an independent public body to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding across Irish society.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 sets out the functions of the Commission, i.e. to ensure that:

  • there is respect for, and protection of, everyone’s human rights;
  • there is respect for the dignity and worth of each person;
  • a person’s ability to achieve their potential is not limited by prejudice, discrimination, or neglect;
  • everyone has a fair and equal opportunity to take part in the economic, political, social or cultural life of the State; and
  • people respect each other, respect equality and human rights, and understand the value of diversity within society

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

 

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