|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 at Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival||16 Sep 2016|
|Series of One-Stop-Shop Events Launched to Increase Civic and Political Participation of Migrants||21 Aug 2016|
|#StopRacism Campaign 2016 Launch||09 Aug 2016|
|Immigrant Council Urges Olympic Fans Not to Engage in Sex Tourism||02 Aug 2016|
- 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.
Immigrant Council at Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival
Series of One-Stop-Shop Events Launched to Increase Civic and Political Participation of Migrants
A range of barriers prevent migrants from actively participating in civic and political life, and these must be removed to ensure integration and community cohesion.
That’s according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland, which today (21.08.16) – along with partners Nasc Ireland – launched a series of ‘one-stop-shop’ events aimed at increasing the civic and political participation of EU and non-EU migrants.
Ten events will take place between August 2016 and April 2017 in locations including Dublin, Dundalk, Navan, Newbridge, Carlow, Limerick, Kerry and Cork. The first event was held at the end of July in Cork City, with a very successful turnout.
The events are being run by the Immigrant Council and Nasc Ireland as part of the Participate project, a European project – funded by the European Commission and the Open Society Foundation – that involves similar initiatives in Belgium and the UK.
Low Voter Turnout Amongst New Communities
Commenting today, Joe O’Brien, Integration Outreach Officer with the Immigrant Council, said: “Voter turnout and political participation is low amongst new Irish communities. This reflects the fact that many migrants in Ireland are first-generation, who tend to be less politically active than second or third-generation migrants.
“Another factor feeding into low civic engagement is that the majority of migrants are of working age and live in suburban and commuter areas. The time constraints brought about by work and family demands mean people may find it challenging to move beyond the family home or workplace to get involved in their local communities.
“Language barriers and lack of familiarity with local networks and services can also make it difficult for people to participate in civic and political life in a way they might life.”
Mr. O’Brien said the aim of the Participate project’s one-stop-shop events is to make it easier for migrants to get involved in their local communities.
“This project is seeking to get around the barriers often faced by migrants and to increase the civic and political participation of this new cohort of Irish citizens,” he said. “Becoming a citizen, participating in elections and volunteering have all been internationally recognised as key elements to integration and community cohesion.
“Ireland can benefit so much from the enthusiasm, skills and experiences of our migrant communities. Enhancing migrant participation in local community life will reap multiple rewards on both sides.”
Format for One-Stop-Shop Events
The Immigrant Council and Nasc are organising one-stop-shop events across the country over the coming months. Each event will involve local partners, including local volunteer centres, Citizens’ Information Services, Tidy Towns groups, the Franchise office of local authorities, and sports, community and cultural groups that are looking for new members or participants to join in events.
The Immigrant Council and Nasc will also be present at the events, providing information and practical guidance on issues such as applying for citizenship and registering to vote.
Commenting today, Jennifer DeWan, Campaigns and Communications Manager at Nasc, said: “Seventeen per cent of the Irish population are from a migrant background and, since 2011, over 90,000 people have acquired Irish citizenship.
“This is a huge cohort of people, and it is imperative that people are supported in becoming more actively involved in political and civic activities in their local communities. Participation is a key to integration. People need to feel that they are engaging in what’s happening in their communities to be able to feel a part of it. These events will offer people many different opportunities to begin to engage.
“This project is also a great opportunity to work closely with other organisations and community groups, especially migrant-led organisations, to ensure that the message going out about the importance of participation is being heard by as many people as possible.”
Event Next Sunday in Blanchardstown
The second official one-stop-shop event under the Participate project will take place next Sunday, 28th August, at the Blanchardstown Free Family Fun Day in Millennium Park, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 from 2-6pm.
Further information on the event – and the Participate project more generally – is available at www.immigrantcouncil.ie.
Contact: Martina Quinn, Alice PR & Events, Tel: 087-6522033 / Catriona Graham, Immigrant Council of Ireland, Tel: 085-1200227
Immigrant Council, National Transport Authority and Public Transport Providers Launch Nationwide Anti- Racism Campaign
Immigrant Council Urges Olympic Fans Not to Engage in Sex Tourism
– Brazil not meeting minimum international standards for elimination of trafficking –
The Immigrant Council of Ireland has today (02.08.16) urged fans travelling to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games to be conscious of the upsurge in sexual exploitation that occurs around major sporting events.
The Council highlighted the link between prostitution and trafficking, and said the brothel-owners and traffickers that fuel the sex industry are likely to take full advantage of increased visitor numbers to Rio this summer.
Commenting today, Brian Killoran, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council, said reports are already emerging of child trafficking busts in Brazil ahead of the Olympic Games.
“The 2016 US Trafficking in Persons Report highlighted the extent of the child sex tourism industry in Brazil, with so-called ‘tourists’ coming from Europe,” he said. “The report stated that the Brazilian authorities are not doing enough to combat this criminal trade.
“Major sporting events are a great time to celebrate national pride, and cheer on your country’s amazing athletes. But they’re also a time when thousands of women and girls are placed at increased risk of abuse and exploitation, due to increased demand for prostitution.
“Prostitution is a harmful, abusive trade and is intrinsically linked to human trafficking.
“It is crucial that fans travelling to the Olympics are aware of the violence, harm and exploitation caused by the sex trade. Anyone who thinks about visiting a brothel must be aware that the women and girls there may be victims of trafficking.”
Contact: Martina Quinn, Alice PR & Events, Tel: 087-6522033 / Catriona Graham, Immigrant Council of Ireland, Tel: 085-1200227