Changes to Atypical Work Permit Scheme for Migrant Fishers Welcomed by Human Rights and Equality Commission

Commission Exercised Amicus Role in High Court Case

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) today welcomed a settlement reached in a case relating to human trafficking and other severe forms of labour exploitation on the Irish fishing fleet. The Commission exercised its function as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the case.

The International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF) and the Minister for Justice and Equality presented the terms of a mediated settlement agreed between them to the High Court today. The agreement makes a number of changes to the atypical work permit scheme for non-EEA fisherman working on the Irish fishing fleet, including:

  • Flexibility for non-EEA fishermen to move to another vessel within a defined time period without risk of visa cancellation and deportation. Their previous employer cannot veto such a move.
  • Inter-agency collaboration between the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), Marine Survey Office MSO and the Gardaí if necessary to be streamlined to combat exploitation on board fishing vessels;
  • Greater promotion of awareness among non-EEA fishermen of their rights and entitlements.

The International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF) had originally brought a case to the High Court seeking an immediate moratorium on the grant or renewal of work permits under the atypical work permit scheme for non-EU fishermen, pending a review of conditions attaching to the scheme. The ITF brought the case having identified a number of individuals who arrived in Ireland on foot of permits granted under the scheme, and who it alleged were subsequently subjected to human trafficking and other severe forms of labour exploitation on Irish fishing vessels.

The Commission’s role as amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) in this case built on its anti-human trafficking work. The Commission previously appeared as amicus curiae in the “P” case, which concerned a Vietnamese woman the Gardaí discovered locked in a cannabis “grow house”. Having considered the Commission’s legal submissions in that case, the High 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.

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

“The Commission welcomes the news that the parties have reached an agreement and hopes, if properly implemented, that this will contribute to the fight against human trafficking and severe labour exploitation on Irish fishing vessels, and to ensuring that the rights of non-EEA fishermen are vindicated.”

“Along with our work in the Courts, the Commission will continue to co-operate with  members of the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) in examining how the Irish state deals with human trafficking and how victims are supported and protected.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Editor’s Note

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission’s written submissions in this case are available at the following link:

https://www.ihrec.ie/documents/itf-v-minister-for-justice-and-equality-ireland-and-the-attorney-general/

The amicus curiae function of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Commission’s functions under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 include that of applying for liberty to appear as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) before the superior courts in proceedings that involve, or are concerned with, the human rights or equality rights of any person.

The ‘P Case’

The Irish Human Rights and Equality 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 legal submissions 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 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.

Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking (GRETA)

The full report of the October 2017 Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking (GRETA) on Ireland is available at the following link:

https://rm.coe.int/greta-2017-28-fgr-irl-en/168074b426

The full submission made by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to GRETA ahead of their December 2016 Country visit to Ireland is available at the following link:

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

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

 

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

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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