|23 child trafficking victims identified in Ireland in past 12 months||20 Jun 2013|
|Pimps and Traffickers Still Have Free Reign||14 Jun 2013|
|Domestic violence victims must not be trapped by deportation fears||07 Jun 2013|
|Messages of hate appearing in Dublin||05 Jun 2013|
|Irish campaigners join worldwide appeal to Obama on sex-trafficking||04 Jun 2013|
|Africa Day must lead to genuine policy reforms||27 May 2013|
|Leading the way on immigration-Denise Charlton, Irish Times||24 May 2013|
|Czar needed to spearhead fight against human trafficking||23 May 2013|
|Louth County Council supports Turn Off The Red Light||20 May 2013|
|Loved ones split on International Families Day must be offered hope||15 May 2013|
Children being abused in Irish ‘commercial sex’ trade Call for National Database, Access to Justice and improved identification of victims
Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
Ireland is at the centre of a sex-trafficking web which reaches across three continents and trafficks men, women and children for abuse according to an annual global trafficking report produced by the US State Department (20/6/2013).
The ‘Trafficking in Persons’ report confirms the grim reality of sex-trafficking and must lead to firm action by our politicians the Immigrant Council of Ireland has warned.
The report found almost half of the 48 trafficking victims identified in the past year were children being abused in ‘commercial sex’.
Responding to the report, Denise Charlton of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“Once again the US State Department has confirmed that Ireland remains a ‘destination, source and transit country for women, men and children subjected to sex-trafficking and forced labour’.
The figures make for grim reading: 48 victims identified during 2012, of which 23 were children and 19 were being abused in the ‘commercial sex’ trade.
Shortfalls are also identified which the Government must act on.
Priorities must include
- Improved identifying of victims, Ireland has consistently been shown to be weak in this area
- Better Access to Justice for victims
- The establishment of a national database to improve information flow within Government and with frontline agencies
- Appoint a National Rapporteur or Anti Trafficking Czar
- The conclusion of the Review of the Laws on Prostitution with new laws targeting those whose actions fuel prostitution and sex trafficking
We urge the Government to act on this document and ensure that those still trapped in a life of threats, abuse and violence are offered hope.”
Nusha Yonkova, Anti Trafficking Coordinator with the Immigrant Council added:
“Regarded as one of the most comprehensive reviews on sex-trafficking this annual report by the State Department shows once again that no country has yet found a response which is robust enough to end this modern day scourge.
Ireland has an opportunity in the coming weeks to take a lead with the publication of recommendations on the laws on prostitution, as a first step we encourage our politicians to show courage and stand up to traffickers, pimps and the organised crime which run this
Ireland Excerpt from the Trafficking in Persons Report of the US State Department.
IRELAND (Tier 1)
Ireland is a destination, source, and transit country for women, men, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Foreign trafficking victims identified in Ireland are from Nigeria, Cameroon, the Philippines, Poland, Albania, Bulgaria, Brazil, Romania, Pakistan, and other countries in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. There has been an increase in identified Irish children subjected to sex trafficking within the country. Victims of forced labor in domestic service and restaurant work are subjected to excessively long hours from employers who withhold personal documents. Some domestic workers employed by foreign diplomats on assignment in Ireland work under poor conditions and are at risk of labor trafficking.
The Government of Ireland fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to provide a wide range of protective services to victims, including legal aid. Although government funding for NGOs providing services to victims decreased during 2012, total government funding for anti-trafficking activities increased during the year. Law enforcement took steps to improve coordination with NGOs and the provision of services and protection to potential victims of sex trafficking. However, in some cases authorities failed to make prompt determinations of potential victims eligibility for services. Victims could face challenges accessing services due to confusion between NGOs and officials on procedures in the national referral process, particularly outside of Dublin.
Recommendations for Ireland: Vigorously implement Ireland’s 2008 anti-trafficking law to ensure sex trafficking and forced labor offenders are held accountable through convictions and dissuasive sentences; ensure trafficking investigations efficiently move forward to prosecution; implement a government-wide victim services database and case management system to improve the tracking of efficient delivery of services across multiple government agencies; continue to enhance and formalize the role of NGOs in identifying potential victims in cooperation with law enforcement and through proactive screenings in asylum and immigration settings; improve training and communication on the national referral process for NGOs to improve referral of potential victims to law enforcement and ensure authorities make prompt determinations of potential victims eligibility for services, irrespective of criminal proceedings; ensure that all trafficking victims are, in practice, able to access available legal services; consider policy or legal changes to ensure all potential trafficking victims are afforded a reflection period, regardless of immigration status, to recover before making an informed decision about whether to assist law enforcement; ensure labor inspectors refer identified forced labor cases for criminal investigation and refer potential victims to services; consider amending the law to authorize asylum seekers who are also identified trafficking victims to obtain work authorization; consider increasing funding for victim services; enhance training for social workers responsible for trafficked children, including meeting the needs of unaccompanied migrant or asylum seeking children who are victims of trafficking; and consider establishing a national rapporteur to enhance anti-trafficking efforts and to better assess needed improvements in victim identification.
The Government of Ireland sustained efforts to prosecute trafficking offenders; however, the number of new trafficking investigations it undertook during the year declined. The government prohibits all forms of trafficking through its 2008 Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act, which prescribes penalties up to life imprisonment; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Authorities initiated 32 new trafficking investigations in 2012, compared with 53 new investigations in 2011, and continued 97 investigations begun in prior years. Law enforcement referred 22 trafficking suspects, including two labor trafficking suspects, to the Director of Public Prosecution in 2012, none of whom went to trial during the reporting period. In 2011, nine defendants were prosecuted for human trafficking offenses. The government reported four convictions under Section 3 of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 in this reporting period, as compared to one conviction in the previous reporting period. Conviction statistics in Ireland conflate possession or creation of child pornography and trafficking in persons, owing to the structure of the relevant Irish anti-trafficking law. One trafficker was sentenced under trafficking-related statutes to three years imprisonment and one was sentenced under the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 to 12 years imprisonment. A report by the OSCE Special Representative for Combating Trafficking noted the number of prosecutions under the anti-trafficking law was low, especially those relating to labor trafficking, in relation to the number of investigations. The government did not report any new investigations or prosecutions of public officials for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses during the reporting period, though it continued its investigation of a former Irish police officer for trafficking-related complicity. In 2012, authorities initiated an investigation of an Ireland-based foreign diplomat for alleged trafficking of three potential victims in domestic servitude. The government continued to train national police on human trafficking awareness in coordination with NGOs
and international organizations. The government also funded the development of train-the-trainer courses for officials on human trafficking.
The government maintained adequate protection efforts for trafficking victims, though potential victims faced challenges in accessing available services. Some NGOs noted a lack of proactive identification efforts among law enforcement personnel and an over-reliance on immigration authorities to identify potential trafficking victims may have resulted in a low number of victims accessing assistance. Police also did not take into account more subtle forms of coercion that compel victims to remain in a situation of forced labor, resulting in low numbers of identified labor trafficking victims. The government provided identified non-EU national trafficking victims with a 60-day reflection period—time in which the victim may recover before deciding whether to assist law enforcement. NGOs consistently raised the issue that some potential victims referred to law enforcement never received a determination of whether the government considered them to be “potential victims” eligible for the reflection period and services. The absence of an adequate database hindered the government’s ability to track the prompt provision of services to victims across the many government support agencies. Law enforcement identified 48 potential trafficking victims in 2012, compared with 57 in 2011. Of these 48 victims, six were subjected to forced labor, 17 were male, and 23 were children, including 19 Irish national children who were found in commercial sex. The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers through the provision of residency permits, shelter, individual care plans, and legal aid; however, many victims reportedly were unwilling to come forward to law enforcement, possibly due to a perceived risk or lack of knowledge of available services. All victims identified by law enforcement during the reporting period assisted authorities in investigations. NGOs criticized a cumbersome referral process, citing confusion over who the appropriate points of contact were to investigate trafficking in areas outside of Dublin. In 2012, the government provided the equivalent of approximately $1.1 million in combined funding for government-provided programs and services, inclusive of funding to NGOs for their direct services.
The government made available free legal aid to all potential trafficking victims. Only a very small number of eligible potential victims availed themselves of such services; only nine received legal services in 2012. Under the national referral mechanism, potential victims must be referred to law enforcement before shelter, health, and legal services will be provided. NGOs reported that, in some cases, authorities took up to a year from the time an NGO referred a potential victim to law enforcement to make an eligibility determination, severely obstructing identification and access to services. NGOs reported not knowing how to proceed in assisting victims without an update on the outcome of law enforcement’s determination of whether the person is an eligible “potential victim.” NGOs reported concerns over the low quality of housing for potential victims and the practice of moving victims to different hostels. Long-term shelter is provided to foreign trafficking victims through asylum reception centers. Law enforcement referred 18 trafficking victims to shelter in the asylum centers and the government provided them with care plans. A report by the OSCE Special Representative noted increased coordination with NGOs was needed to enhance and individualize services to trafficking victims in asylum centers. During the year, two victims were issued new six- month temporary residency permits and 18 victims received renewed temporary residency, of whom five received long-term residency in Ireland. Two victims were in the asylum process. Although victims of trafficking seek legal employment while in temporary residency status, there is a statutory prohibition preventing asylum seekers from working. The government’s failure effectively to track referrals of and case management services for victims prevented social workers from verifying whether the full range of services and supports for which victims were eligible were actually provided.
A report by the OSCE Special Representative noted recent efforts by the government to strengthen the child protection system and encouraged authorities to take further action to ensure durable and safe solutions for children using a child- sensitive and child rights-based approach to all aspects of anti-trafficking policy. In 2012, the government expanded nationally a formal protocol between national police and child protection services on unaccompanied migrant children to reduce the number of children who go missing from care. An NGO report published during the reporting period noted positively the government’s transition to placing most unaccompanied migrant children, including trafficked children in foster care, with a small number of older children placed in residential centers, an improvement over past use of hostels. The report called for consistent support from designated local social workers to respond to the complexity of issues and needs of trafficked children placed in private contracted foster care outside of Dublin.
There were no reports of trafficking victims punished for acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. NGOs praised the government’s victim-centered approach during a joint operation with law enforcement counterparts in Northern Ireland against organized prostitution, raiding 140 sites; police treated women as potential victims and witnesses to crimes, not as criminals. The government provided guidelines to frontline staff in the Department of Social Protection on how to identify and report trafficking concerns.
The government sustained its anti-trafficking prevention efforts. In coordination with the Belfast Department of Justice, the government ran a photography and video competition for university students as a means of raising awareness on human trafficking. Irish secondary schools included in their curriculum a course on how students can combat human trafficking in Ireland. The government held a joint training session with border control and law enforcement officials in Great Britain and Northern Ireland focused on raising awareness of trafficking indicators. As part of the Government of Ireland’s 2012 Chairmanship in the Office of the OSCE, the government organized an international seminar on human trafficking in Vienna. The government conducted a review of the 2009 to 2012 national action plan against trafficking and planned to publish the report in 2013. The government conducted a year-long study and period of public comment considering changes to the 1993 prostitution law and whether to criminalize purchasers of commercial sex acts. The government did not demonstrate additional efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor. The government provided anti-trafficking training to Irish defense forces prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.
Pimps and traffickers still have free reign as prostitution review reaches first anniversary
Time for action has arrived
The passing of the first anniversary of a review of the laws on prostitution must mark a wake-up call to move the debate to a conclusion and take firm action against organised crime, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The Council is warning that while the debate has dragged on, the pimps and the traffickers have been continuing their threats, abuse and violence against women and girls.
The Immigrant Council is one of 68 groups which form the Turn Off the Red Light campaign seeking laws targeting the buyers of sex to end abuse, violence and sex-trafficking.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“It is now a year since the Government announced its welcome review of the law on prostitution. The review has included very worthwhile submissions and public hearings by the Oireachtas Justice Committee which put the spotlight firmly on the horror behind Irish prostitution.
As one of the founding members of the Turn Off the Red Light campaign, we have at every possible stage engaged in this process and have been encouraged by the great interest shown by politicians on all sides.
However, we are also keenly aware that no firm action has been taken to respond to the selling of 800 women on line every day, sex-trafficking which has seen 134 identified victims discovered in Ireland over a 3-year period, as well as the harrowing experiences revealed by survivors of prostitution.
On this anniversary we are asking politicians to now advance the review beyond a debate and to set out a timeline for action. The need for tackling demand by bringing in laws targeting sex-buyers is clear.
Prostitution, sex-trafficking and other associated organised crime are a reality in Ireland, they have reached every county and strong words of condemnation are not enough to bring them to an end, the time for action has arrived.
68 organisations, including doctors, nurses, technicians, public servants, business leaders, farming representatives, trade unions and survivors of politicians all agree it is time to end this crime. Now we are asking our politicians to listen and act.”
Domestic violence victims must not be trapped by deportation fears Statement by the Domestic Violence Coalition
Coalition of groups seeks new legal protections
Submission made to Oireachtas Committee
The need to introduce legislation to protect and support victims of domestic violence who are not coming forward because of fears about their immigration status, has been highlighted by a coalition of nine frontline organisations.
The Domestic Violence Coalition has proposed wording for new laws to ensure that no-one should feel trapped in a threatening, abusive of violent relationship because of fears of deportation.
In a submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality the coalition sets out four areas requiring urgent consideration:
The need to formally recognise domestic violence in immigration law
Reform of current administrative practices
The provision of safe emergency accommodation as well as welfare benefits
That the Irish government sign and ratify the Council Of Europe Convention on Combating and Preventing Violence against Women and Domestic Violence as a matter of urgency
The members of the coalition are Womens Aid, Adapt Domestic Abuse Services, Doras Luimní, Nasc – the Irish Immigration Support Centre, the Domestic Violence Advocacy Service Sligo, Akidwa, Longford Women’s Link, Sonas Housing and the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Brian Killoran of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“It is clear that there are people in this country who feel trapped in violent relationships because of fears that their status in Ireland is dependent on their spouse. In recent years our frontline services at the ICI alone assisted in 54 cases where domestic violence was a factor, through our work we are also aware of other incidents where victims are being supported by others.
Our submission includes draft wording for future legislation which would provide increased protections and recognise the plight of victims in law”
Niamh Wilson of Domestic Violence Advocacy Service Sligo added “We welcome the willingness of the Oireachtas Committee to examine this issue and are asking members to ensure that its consideration of the issues involved is conducted in a timely manner in order to offer hope to victims.
The nine-organisations which have united to highlight this issue remain available to assist TD’s and Senators in their deliberations”
Incidents shows there can be no complacency
Messages of hate which have been appearing in graffiti, on posters and vandalism in Dublin in recent days will be condemned outright by all right-thinking people, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
A number of posters have appeared in the City Centre in recent days while a home in Dublin was scrawled with racist graffiti and the half built headquarters of the former Anglo Irish Bank has been daubed with anti Semitic messages.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council said:
“During the holiday weekend and since there has been a notable increase in incidents of messages of hate and racism reported to us in the Dublin area.
In what appears to be a co-ordinated action posters claiming that ‘ethnic-cleansing’ of Irish people is underway have appeared in the Inner City, two posters similar in nature and format have also been plastered on the front window of our offices.
This follows on the back of an attack on a family home in Dublin at the weekend with messages telling the occupants to leave daubed in graffiti.
On Tuesday alone, eight racist incidents were reported to the Immigrant Council of Ireland and we are responding to them in co-operation with the relevant authorities.
We are also aware of media reports of anti Semitic graffiti at the half built Anglo Irish Bank headquarters.
Such messages of hate have no place in Dublin and will be rejected by all right thinking people. It is important that such incidents are not downplayed and are responded to in a serious manner. Public representatives have a role to play and should use every opportunity to make it absolutely clear that there is no acceptable level of racism and xenophobia.”
President ask to lead the world with laws targeting sex buyers
President Barak Obama has received an appeal from US and Irish campaigners to take a lead on ending sex-trafficking by introducing laws which target those who buy sex, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The American based campaign, Equality Now, has asked the Immigrant Council of Ireland to join its efforts to introduce a federal law in the United States in the hope it will send a signal to parliaments across the globe to follow suit.
The involvement of the Irish campaigners comes as a report from the Oireachtas Committee on Justice is expected on the issue here.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council said:
"Sex trafficking is a crime which recognises no borders, it reaches not just across countries but across continents which is why it is important that our response has an international element. Like campaigners across the world we were delighted when President Obama highlighted the fight against trafficking as a priority when he spoke on the issue last September.
We are now joining Equality Now, other US supporters and like minded organisations from across the world in making a direct appeal to the President. We are asking him to introduce a federal law which would put the activities of sex buyers rather than those forced into prostitution in the spotlight when it comes to prosecutions.
Already individual States are taking action, when Tennessee introducing such a law from July 1st. However a federal law would not only end a piecemeal approach it would send a message to the world.
Here we are awaiting the report of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and remain hopeful that our four years of campaigning will deliver a result which will pave the way for a change in the law."
Nusha Yonkovo, Anti-Trafficking Co-ordinator with the Immigrant Council of Ireland added:
"International crime gangs run prostitution in Ireland, Europe and across the world. We know this from the accounts of survivors and also from the testimony of Senior Gardai to the Oireachtas Justice Committee in February. It is clear that what is needed is a two fold approach, national laws which work and international action to ensure these criminals have no safe haven.
In the past week we joined over 100 organisations from across Europe as well as the European Commission to review how best to respond to this crisis in Europe where 62% of trafficking victims are sexually exploited and women and girls accounting for 80% of all trafficking victims. Now we join worldwide campaigners in this direct appeal to President Obama."
Racism, trafficking and immigration reform must be tackled
The Government must act on key challenges facing the 60,000 Africans living in Ireland if it is genuine in its commitment to strengthen the relationship we have with the continent, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The Council has used Africa Day celebrations in Dublin’s Phoenix Park to call for political action in a number of areas. Speaking at a workshop during the celebrations, Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
"The fact that Africa Day is celebrated by migrants and Irish people alike is a sign that the relationship between our island and the continent has changed forever.
The involvement of the Government in the celebrations is not only recognition of the positive impact Irish peacekeepers, our aid programme and many Irish individuals have had on the continent but also of the role Africans are now playing in shaping Ireland’s future.
Many are using their skills, talents and abilities to rebuild the economy and each year more and more make the ultimate commitment to Ireland by becoming citizens.
However, the Government has fallen short in addressing challenges faced by the community. There are a number of policy areas where Ministers can take swift action to correct these shortfalls.
Too many of our migrants and Irish citizens are split from their loved ones by a failure to bring in clear, fair and just rules on family reunification. We want to see the Government honour a commitment it has already given in this area and reunite those families which have been literally torn apart.
Racism is a growing problem which must be addressed. At the Immigrant Council of Ireland we are currently responding to five serious incidents a week but our research shows victims and witnesses alike are still slow to come forward. People need to be assured by the Government and the Gardaí that they have nothing to fear in reporting incidents.
There are also those who have been brought from Africa and other regions to our shores under false pretences. Tricked with promises of a new life, new jobs or even marriage only to find out it is all a sham and they have been sex-trafficked here to work in a brothel. As one of the founding members of the Turn Off the Red Light campaign we are seeking new laws to change that and after four years can report that political progress is being made on this issue.
Ireland’s relationship with Africa is unique in a European context, we never went to conquer or colonise. Our relationship is stronger now than at any other time fuelled by bilateral trade and movement of people, we must ensure our laws and policies facilitate this stronger relationship
Leading the way on immigration-Denise Charlton, Irish Times
Sir, – The news of 10,500 extra working visas for Irish people as well as the new hope being offered to undocumented in the United States by immigration reforms (Simon Carswell, World News, May 23rd) is an example which politicians here should follow.
While the reforms in Washington DC are bringing hope to Irish families on both sides of the Atlantic, they stand in stark contrast to the uncertainty, fear and heartbreak facing many here in Ireland because of the failure of successive governments to reform our own immigration system.
As a first step the Government should introduce its long-awaited policy on family reunification and set out clear rules for Irish citizens and migrants legally living here who have been torn apart from loved ones.
Another reform must be to offer a clear and transparent independent appeals system to those who have had their applications rejected by the cumbersome and bureaucratic system. The Office of the Ombudsman has already said it is willing to take on this role.
There are many other areas that require reform, including much improved access for workers who can help fill the skills gap in many of our high tech and foreign language sectors.
Our political leaders were quick to mobilise our full diplomatic and lobbying ability in Washington DC to bring about reforms there, now it is time for them to look much closer to home.
Immigrant Council of Ireland,
St Andrew Street,
Ireland urged to act on EU recommendation to make appointment
A Human Trafficking Czar should be appointed to spear-head Ireland’s fight against international organised crime gangs, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The call has been made as Senators will today (Thurs May 23rd 2012) debate new laws against trafficking.
The EU is recommending that every member state make such an appointment.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said:
"While today’s debate is welcome we know that traffickers and organised crime gangs are adept at changing and evolving to find ways around new laws.
The European Union is recommending the appointment of a National Rapporteur or Czar in each member state to ensure that data on trafficking is accurate, that new trends are quickly identified and responded to and that policy is kept under review.
We believe that such an independent voice and analysis of official figures will ensure that Ireland has robust laws and meets its international obligations to tackle one of the greatest criminal challenges of our time.
President Barack Obama made such an appointment four-years ago to co-ordinate the response of the United States to the scourge of trafficking in people for forced labour and prostitution."
Nusha Yonkova, the ICI Anti-Trafficking Co-ordinator said:
"While the Government is taking welcome steps to strengthen our laws in this area there remains a number of shortfalls which are not being addressed.
The failure to appoint an Independent overseer is one of these, in addition the Government has yet to act on international criticism of Ireland for not having strong enough measures to identify victims while there is also serious concerns about levels of support offered to victims.
Overall the system would benefit from an independent oversight to ensure Ireland will never be a soft target for those who profit from the misery of others."
Louth County Council becomes 11th to support Turn Off the Red Light
Political support growing for laws against sex buyers
Louth County Council has become the 11th local authority to support the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign for the introduction of laws targeting sex-buyers.
A motion before the council has passed unanimously.
Councillors in Louth join those in Cork City, Clare, Dunlaoighaire/Rathdown, Limerick City and County, Sligo Borough and County, Leitrim, Longford and Athlone in supporting the campaign.
Welcoming the decision Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“It is clear that politicians across the country are listening and getting the message that Irish people want pimps, traffickers and organised crime put out of business and believe targeting demand is the best way to achieve that.
In addition to the support we are receiving at local authority level it is worth noting that 3 out of the 4 largest political parties in the country have also voted support for our efforts.
In the coming weeks the Government’s review of the laws on prostitution will reach its first anniversary. As one of the 68 organisations which make up the Turn Off the Red Light campaign we are asking Ministers to now move beyond the debate and take action.
Any delay will only benefit those behind a prostitution ‘industry’ which places 800 women for sale on-line in Ireland everyday, has sex trafficked 134 people here over 3-years and is taking over €200 million a year from our economy.
Sarah Benson, Chief Executive of Ruhama added:
“The decision of Louth Councillors sends another strong message to our national public representatives that people want this criminality confronted and shutdown.
The Turn Off the Red Light has the support of all sections of Irish society, including doctors, nurses, survivors of prostitution, farming representatives, business leaders, trade unionists, human rights groups, children’s rights campaigners and many more.
We are encouraged by the level of political support we are receiving, but are also keenly aware that the anniversary of the Government review is almost upon us. The time for debating must now come to a close and a timeline for legislative action should be set out.
Every day at the coal face Ruhama see the human cost of the Irish sex trade. Legislation to criminalise the sex buyer and decriminalise those exploited cannot wait.”
Government must honour commitment on new Family Reunification policy
Statement by Immigrant Council of Ireland
The Immigrant Council of Ireland is marking International Families Day (Thurs May 15th 2013) by calling on the Government to honour a commitment to introduce a new policy on re-uniting loved ones separated by red tape.
The Council is seeking the introduction of rules on family reunification and is concerned that the delay in introducing the policy has already lead to about 50 families having had their applications placed on hold.
Hilkka Becker, Senior Solicitor with the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“While the Government’s commitment to reform family reunification policies is welcome, the promise alone offers little comfort to the many Irish citizens and migrants legally living here who have been separated from their loved ones.
We are seeking clear, fair and just rules with proper guidelines to ensure any period of separation is minimised.
At present about 50 families have been left in limbo as some categories of applications are placed on hold, while many more are left trying to navigate a system which lacks clarity and fairness.
As an Independent Law Centre we have been highlighting this issue for the past 12-years and have provided legal representation in over 500-cases, many of which have had a wider positive impact in bringing families together.
The strain of family separation on parents and children is immense. Clients at the Council have reported suffering from anxiety and stress, at times, resulting in marital breakdown. The trauma of such separation on children has, in cases, resulted in psychological and sociological difficulties. The childhood of children who are torn apart from a parent, and sometimes siblings, has effectively been hijacked.
We are placing families in precarious situations, and effectively forcing some of them into single parenting. Family life in Ireland must be respected and protected.
Family reunification is at the heart of the reforms currently being debated in the United States with President Obama even tweeting about the need to reunite people with their loved ones. On International Day of Families we ask the Government to give priority to introducing its new family reunification policy.”