|Immigrant Council welcomes today’s Cabinet decision to accept 40 Calais children||10 Jan 2017|
|Mediterranean migrant crisis reaches gruesome milestone||22 Dec 2016|
|New report highlights challenges faced by migrant children due to flawed immigration system||16 Dec 2016|
|Ireland Must Act on 1,500 Unaccompanied Children in Calais||30 Oct 2016|
|Immigrant Council of Ireland Welcomes Commitment to Criminalise the Purchase of Sex||17 Oct 2016|
|Immigrant Council Launches First Ever Research Report on Exploitative Sham Marriages||10 Oct 2016|
Immigrant Council welcomes today’s Cabinet decision to accept 40 Calais children
Mediterranean migrant crisis reaches gruesome milestone
Full data and further information on the number of fatalities in the Mediterranean is available from the UN Migration Agency at: http://migration.iom.int/europe/.
New report highlights challenges faced by migrant children due to flawed immigration system
- Children are largely invisible in Ireland’s immigration system. Until 16, they are assumed to have the same immigration permission as their parent, but cannot access confirmation of this position.
- There is no legislation or guidance on the appropriate permissions to be granted to children. This lack of clarity results in inconsistency in the immigration permissions granted to children when they turn 16, even in identical circumstances.
- The immigration status and access to citizenship for children in care is not adequately addressed. Despite being in the care of the State, they are not automatically considered to be lawfully resident. Their immigration permission still depends on their parents.
- Children cannot easily access information or specialised legal advice about their immigration status. They are frequently unaware of their duty to register with GNIB at 16 years, or their eligibility for naturalisation.
Mr Killoran concluded: “We are calling on the Government and associated State agencies to recognise the devastating impact that the information vacuum is having on children who have faced enough difficulties already in their short lives. Our report highlights the desperate need for the creation of a specific agency or contact point that will take responsibility for providing specialised information and legal support, where needed, on immigration to children and other key stakeholders.
The research for the new report was inspired by the Immigrant Council’s own experiences working with migrant children and the recommendation of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in January 2016 that Ireland adopt a legal framework to address the needs of migrant children. Interviews were conducted with young adults who moved to Ireland as children, social workers, guardians ad litem, and other professionals working with migrant children.
Ireland Must Act on 1,500 Unaccompanied Children in Calais
The founder of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Sister Stanislas Kennedy, has today (Sunday October 30th) again called on Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, TD to act on the dire circumstances facing unaccompanied child refugees in Calais. This call is supported by ICTU, by the Children's Rights Alliance and advocacy group, 'Not On Our Watch'.
Sr. Stanislas said "Over the last week, the authorities in France had disputed claims by volunteers that, following the demolition of the camp in Calais, more than a thousand unaccompanied children were still there. Last night, President of France, Francois Hollande, acknowledged that 1,500 at risk children are still in Calais. Unaccompanied, they are housed in containers. This should shock every citizen of Europe to their core. On Friday I and others said that the disagreement between France and Britain about who was responsible for these children meant our government should offer immediately to assist by taking 200 of those at risk. There can now be no disputing the scale of the need, or its urgency and the longer Ireland stands quietly in the shadows the more shame we bring on ourselves. One last time therefore I call on the Taoiseach, a self professed European, to act. The EU was established, first and foremost, as a community of nations. Ireland needs to act as a mature and caring member of that community; move to assist vulnerable children and in the process demonstrate solidarity with France and Britain."
This call is made by,
Immigrant Council of Ireland
The Children's Rights Alliance
'Not On Our Watch'
- Sexual Offences Bill will reduce the demand for victims of human trafficking
The Immigrant Council of Ireland welcomes the commitment by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald to bring forward the Sexual Offences Bill to criminalise the purchase of sex as a means of ending the demand for victims of human trafficking. The commitment was one of 65 detailed in the National Action Plan (NAP) to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking in Ireland which was launched today (17.10.2016) in Dublin.
Speaking at the launch, Brian Killoran, CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said: “We welcome the Tánaiste’s decision to bring forward legislation to criminalise the purchase of sexual services. Through our work in the provision of legal advice and representation to victims of trafficking - primarily for sexual exploitation - we know that the prevalent profile of victims is female and a significant number of children are trafficked for sexual exploitation. This will send a message to those who choose to pay for sex and contribute to the exploitation of trafficking victims, that their behaviour is abhorrent and will no longer be tolerated.”
In her speech today, the Tánaiste recognised the important contribution that NGOs have made by working with the Department of Justice and Equality to develop their response to trafficking. As part of this work, the Immigrant Council of Ireland made a submission on the NAP last year and last week, were part of a study visit to the UK with Department officials to look at their approach to victim identification.
Mr Killoran said: “In our submission on the NAP, we recommended ending the use of direct provision for accommodation of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation among other recommendations on victim identification. The decision to review the formal identification process is a welcome first step but must be completed as speedily as possible. We hope the review will address the current failing of the identification process to identify EEA nationals, who make up the majority of victims as well as investigating emerging trends such as human trafficking involving exploitative sham marriages.
“The decision to proceed with the National Action Plan honours a commitment given by Government three-years ago and is an opportunity to ensure that the shortfalls in Irish laws, policies and procedures are corrected. If implemented in a timely way, the new measures will ensure that Ireland is not perceived as a soft target by the organised gangs which run prostitution and sex trafficking and that there is a sea change in the approach to victims which will put their needs to the fore.”
Immigrant Council Launches First Ever Research Report on Exploitative Sham Marriages
The Immigrant Council of Ireland has today (10.10.16) launched the first ever research report on exploitative sham marriages in Europe.
The report defines exploitative sham marriages as marriages between EU and non-EU nationals for the purpose of immigration advantage, where exploitation of one or both parties has occurred.
According to the report, this is an emerging form of human exploitation in Europe; and there are many common features between victims of exploitative sham marriages and victims of human trafficking.
Commenting today, Brian Killoran, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said: “At present, those exploited in sham marriage situations are not defined as victims of human trafficking.
“However, this research project came about because service-providers and consular services were noticing increased instances of vulnerable women being exploited, abused and trapped with deception in marriages involving EU and non-EU nationals. In many such incidents, there were strong indicators of trafficking.
“These include a highly organised system of targeting, recruiting and exploiting vulnerable young women. There is also evidence of deception and control; movement across borders; appalling experiences of physical and psychological abuse; and incidents of rape, sexual abuse and enforced domestic servitude.”
‘Exploitative Sham Marriages and Human Trafficking in Ireland’
The research report, entitled ‘Exploitative Sham Marriages and Human Trafficking in Ireland’, is the culmination of two years of transnational cooperation as part of the Hestia project, which is aimed at preventing human trafficking and sham marriages. The project is supported by the European Commission’s Prevention of and Fight Against Crime Programme, and involves Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland and Slovakia, as well as Ireland.
To inform the research report, case studies were provided by NGOs, as well as the Latvian and Lithuanian embassies, representing a sample of exploitative sham marriages and highlighting common elements staff had observed. Field research on exploitative sham marriages was also conducted in Ireland, involving interviews with the Department of Justice, An Garda Síochána, NGO front-line services, embassy staff, and an in-depth interview with a victim. Statistical data for the report was provided by the Latvian and Estonian embassies and the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Services, with some media reports from Garda operations also included.
At today’s launch, Nusha Yonkova, Anti-Trafficking Manager with the Immigrant Council and co-author of the research report, said the victims of exploitative sham marriages are typically women from Eastern European countries.
“These are young and very vulnerable girls, coming from extremely impoverished backgrounds,” she said. “Several common risk factors for victims were identified during the research project, including teenage pregnancy and a background of domestic violence, neglect, sexual abuse, and foster or institutional care at a young age.
“Family breakdown and extreme poverty were also among the main risk factors. The majority of women had little education and had no workable knowledge of English. All of the women had some pre-existing connection with their recruiter, who was a family member, a friend or a friend of the family from their country of origin.”
Experiences on Arrival in Ireland
According to Dr. Monica O’Connor co-author of the research, “When the women arrived in Ireland, they were brought to accommodation which in many cases housed a number of men.
“They were closely monitored and kept isolated in a foreign country with little knowledge of the local language. In many cases, the women had their papers taken, their movements were tightly controlled, and they had little or no access to the outside world.
“Women reported multiple forms of exploitation – most commonly sexual assault, rape and physical abuse – by individuals or several perpetrators that lasted several weeks, months or years.”
According to the report, the women in the research study had no knowledge of financial transactions around their exploitation, but Garda information has revealed that huge profits are being accrued by those organising such exploitative sham marriages.
“At the centre of this phenomenon are international criminal gangs, with sophisticated networks to transport people across borders in a very systematic way,” said Brian Killoran. “Addressing this issue will require bilateral, police and NGO cooperation between origin states and Ireland, and effective law-enforcement responses and measures to prevent exploitation.
“The research report also recommends reform of the identification process for victims of trafficking in Ireland, so that it accommodates the needs of victims of exploitative marriages and does not discriminate on the basis of nationality. Better supports for victims are required, as well as training for first responders and marriage registrars to enable them to recognise subtler forms of exploitation.”
Department of Justice and Equality
Today’s launch was also addressed by Tara Storey of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Department of Justice and Equality.
Mr. Killoran concluded: “This report marks an important first step in collaboration between government, policymakers and NGOs across Europe to identify and respond to the emerging issue of exploitative sham marriages.
“The National Action Plan on Human Trafficking will be launched next week. Research findings such as those launched today play an important role in informing both national and international policy.”
The ‘Exploitative Sham Marriages and Human Trafficking in Ireland’ report was authored by Dr. Monica O Connor, Catherine Cosgrave and Nusha Yonkova. It is available at http://immigrantcouncil.ie/files/publications/b20d1-hestia-report-final.pdf.
Notes to Editors:
· Funding for the research report: Co-funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Union.
· Lead Partner: Project lead partner was the Ministry of Interior of Latvia.
· Irish partner: Immigrant Council of Ireland and associate partner, the Department of Justice and Equality.