|Sex Buyer Laws passed by Canada – Time for Ireland to act||04 Nov 2014|
|Timeline for hate-crime laws must be met||30 Oct 2014|
|Failure to appoint Rapporteur leaves Ireland vulnerable to trafficking||28 Oct 2014|
|Stateless Persons Conference - Tues Oct 21st||20 Oct 2014|
|Conference on Stateless Persons||20 Oct 2014|
|TDs must act swiftly as NI approves sex buyer laws||20 Oct 2014|
|EU Anti Trafficking Day marked in Ireland||17 Oct 2014|
|Prostitution recognised as sexual violence||16 Oct 2014|
|Time for Ireland to Turn Off the Red Light||15 Oct 2014|
|Budget 2015: an opportunity for real reforms||14 Oct 2014|
Sex Buyer Laws passed by Canada – Time for Ireland to act
Sex Buyer Laws passed by Canada – Time for Ireland to also ruin the business model for pimps and traffickers
Canadian Senate clears way for sex buying to be criminalised before Christmas
TDs and Senators must end delay on laws here
Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
Canada has approved sex buyer laws in a move which must prompt the Government here to end the delay on legislation targeting demand for prostitution and trafficking, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The laws in Canada have been backed in the Senate in Ottawa clearing the way for implementation before Christmas, once Royal Assent is granted.
The Immigrant Council, one of the 70 organisations of the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign, says the Canadian decision shows there is an international move to such laws and Ireland must not be left behind.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland responded to the vote by saying:
“Canada’s decision comes less than two weeks after politicians at Stormont also overwhelmingly accepted the arguments in favour of targeting demand to end exploitation, abuse and trafficking. Both jurisdictions are now set to ruin the business model which allows pimps, traffickers and organised crime to pockets millions of euro.
This is trend which TDs and Senators cannot continue ignoring. It is now 18-months since the Justice Committee made unanimous recommended sex buyer laws. In the intervening period the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the French National Assembly, Stormont and now Canada have backed legislation to end demand for prostitution.
In addition laws are also being successfully implemented in major US Cities, Sweden, Norway and Iceland.
If we continue to delay there is a danger that our communities will be seen as low-risk high-profit locations for pimps, traffickers and thugs.
Together with all other partners of the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign we remain available to the Minister for Justice and all politicians to provide any further information, support or briefings they require to move quickly to legislation.”
Rise in reports underline need for urgent action
Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
The timeline outlined by Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin to progress anti-hate crime measures must not be allowed to slip, the Immigrant Council of Ireland has warned.
The Council says it is vital that heads of bill are published before next summer for laws to be enacted ahead of the next General Election.
It has also confirmed that new figures to be published next week will confirm a further rise in reports of racism in 2014 – last year there was an 85% rise in reports to "firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Killoran, Integration Manager with the Council said:
“While events in recent days in Waterford have placed the issue of racism back in the media spotlight, in reality it is an issue which faces families and individuals on a daily basis.
We welcome the comments of Minister Ó’Ríordáin that our current laws are not fit for purpose and must be updated. The Immigrant Council is working with other agencies to produce draft heads of bill by next May and will be calling on the Minister to present them to Government as a matter of urgency.
The fact that families are forced to lie awake at night fearing their a brick through the window or racist graffiti on their home is unacceptable.
It is our view that while the timeline is tight it must be met if there is to be any chance of laws being introduced in the lifetime of the current Government.”
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council added:
“Through our reporting systems we are continuing to record a rise in cases. Figures we will publish at a meeting of EU Justice Ministers next week will confirm that the trend which was established in 2013 when 142 reports were received has continued throughout 2014.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland has been invited to present its frontline anti-racism work and partnership with Dublin City Council, the National Transport Authority and public transport providers at the EU meeting as an example which can be followed in other countries.”
Ireland vulnerable to traffickers over failure to establish Anti Trafficking Czar
Appointment will bring Ireland into line with other European States
Submission to Minister seeks appointment as part of new action plan
Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
Ireland is vulnerable to organised criminal gangs running human trafficking rings because of the failure to honour international commitments to appoint an Independent Anti Trafficking Czar or Rapporteur , according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The Council has today (Tues 28th Oct 2014) published a submission to the Minister for Justice seeking the establishment of the post to oversee, review and report on the effectiveness of anti-trafficking laws and practices.
Such an appointment is required under our international commitments and would bring Ireland into line with other European Countries.
The submission makes a number of recommendations
The establishment of the position of Independent Anti Trafficking Rapporteur in law.
The main duty of the national rapporteur should be assessing and releasing annual reports on the effectiveness of anti-trafficking policies and practices.
They should also be responsible for collecting data on and identifying trends in human trafficking
The mandate of this position could be extended to cover sexual exploitation of migrant women in prostitution, forced labour and forced child begging.
It should be independent both in terms of (1) its position within the domestic political structure and (2) its members. In respect of the former, it should be accountable to the Oireachtas.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“Our submission is timely given that the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, TD is currently preparing the second National Action Plan on Human Trafficking.
We believe the establishment of an Independent Rapporteur as part of that plan would not only represent a very positive step to get to grips with this crime, but would bring Ireland into line with other European Countries.
In our submission we highlight the very positive experiences in Finland and the Netherlands where Independent Rapporteurs operate separately from their respective Justice Departments – and have led to a more robust response to human trafficking.
Human trafficking is the most lucrative crime of our time – we need independent expertise to review our systems and ensure that the rights of the victims are placed first and foremost followed by our ability to put those responsible behind bars.”
Stateless Persons Conference - Tues Oct 21st
National Conference on Statelessness in Ireland
21st October 2014
European Parliament Office
09.30-09.45: Opening address: Sophie Magennis, Head of Office, UNHCR and Denise
Charlton, Chief Executive Office, Immigrant Council of Ireland
Statelessness: International and European Context:
Chair: Denise Charlton, Chief Executive Officer, Immigrant Council of Ireland
9.45-10.15: Inge Sturkenboom, Regional Statelessness Officer, UNHCR Bureau for Europe,
Brussels: An overview of UNHCR’s Global Campaign on Statelessness and key international developments
10.15-10.45: Chris Nash, Director, European Network on Statelessness (ENS): Statelessness
in Europe and Good Practice regarding the determination and protection of stateless persons
10.45-11.00: Q & A
11.00–11.30: Tea and Coffee break
Statelessness: National Context:
Chair: Michael Lynn SC, Barrister-at-Law
1.30-11:50: Enda O’Neill, Associate Protection Officer, UNHCR Ireland: Scoping the extent of statelessness in Ireland and addressing statelessness absent a determination procedure.
11.50-12.10: Hilkka Becker, Senior Solicitor, Immigrant Council of Ireland, : Statelessness in Ireland – international obligations and national reality.
12.10-12:30: Des Hogan, Head of Legal, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission: National launch of European Network of National Human Rights Institutions’ (ENNHRI) ‘Position Paper with Recommendations on the Eradication of statelessness in Europe’
12.30–13.00: Q& A
13.00: Closing remarks
Practical solutions for Stateless People sought at Dublin conference
Event hosted by the Immigrant Council of Ireland and UNHCR
Practical solutions to the problems faced by people not recognized as nationals of any state will be sought at a National Conference in Dublin today (Tuesday October 21st).
As countries mark the 60th anniversary of the 1954 Convention relating to the status of Stateless Persons, the Immigrant Council of Ireland and UNHCR will come together to discuss ways of assisting stateless people in accessing their rights.
“As more countries sign up to the statelessness conventions and introduce determination procedures, momentum is growing worldwide to stamp out Statelessness” said Sophie Magennis, Head of Office with UNHCR Ireland.
“However more is required to help people facing numerous obstacles in their day-to day-day lives, in a scenario repeated across countries around the world.
To this end, this November UNHCR will launch a global Campaign to end Statelessness in November 2024.”
Speaking ahead of the conference, Hilkka Becker, Senior Solicitor with the Immigrant Council, which is one of the 50 partner organisations of the European Network on Statelessness, said:
"It is unacceptable that people are still being left in limbo six decades after an international commitment was given to respond to this problem with States signing up to the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.
Being a citizen of a country guarantees us some of our most basic rights and entitlements - it is our access to social services, our right to work and travel, the right to a passport and the right to vote.
When people find themselves with no citizenship they have no security, protections or certainty and cannot plan futures for themselves and their families.
For example, the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 is one of the causes of statelessness in Europe affecting hundreds of thousands of persons in the Baltic states and in Eastern Europe - and while most of those affected will find a solution to their situation in their country of origin, a trickle of the impact of this has also reached Ireland.”
The Conference will include speakers from the Immigrant Council of Ireland, UNHCR, the European Network on Statelessness and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
Approval for Northern Ireland sex buyer laws makes South more profitable for pimps
TD’s must act to ensure All-Island approach to end human trafficking
South now a ‘soft target’ for multi billion euro crime
Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
The approval of sex buyer laws by politicians in Northern Ireland requires a swift response from TDs to ensure the south does not become a soft target for traffickers, pimps and thugs, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
Responding to the vote on Clause 6 of a Human Trafficking Bill at Stormont, the Immigrant Council is warning that pimps who will see their business collapse in the North may increase their activity south of the border.
The Council was one of a number of organisations from the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign which appeared before the Stormont Justice Committee to brief members ahead of the vote.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland added:
“We warmly welcome the fact that members of the Northern Ireland Assembly responded to the testimony of frontline agencies and our other partners by making this historic decision approving sex buyer laws by 81 votes to 10.
Together with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, Ruhama, survivors of prostitution from the South and academics we made the strong case for sex buyer laws and produced the evidence to show they work.
The vote sends a direct message to organised crime that Northern Ireland is no longer open for business – however, there must now be genuine concerns that gangs which are losing out in the North will concentrate south of the border.
It is time for TD’s and the Government to end the delay in introducing similar laws here and prevent that happening. Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, TD has already spoken of targeting demand to smash the business model for pimps and traffickers.
Together with the 72 partners of the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign we are encouraging her to follow her words with action before traffickers exploit the difference in laws on both sides of the border and make the South a safe haven for their crimes.”
Anti-Trafficking Day Event hears calls to end demand for prostitution
Campaigners hopeful that Minister Fitzgerald will act
Minister assured of huge public support for sex buyer laws
Calls for laws which would target demand for prostitution and sex-trafficking have been made at a conference hosted by the Immigrant Council of Ireland in Dublin’s Mansion House (Oct 17th 2014) to mark EU Anti Trafficking Day.
Representatives of the 72 organisations from the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign attended the event where the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, TD delivered a keynote address.
Welcoming the Minister Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“We have been greatly encouraged by your recent commitment to ‘follow the money’ in Irish prostitution and to introduce measures to reduce demand – the best way to do that is to target the buyers of sex.
It is now 2 and a half years since the Government launch a review of the laws on prostitution and together with our partners in the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign we are calling on you as Minister to end the delay in introducing legislation.
Laws targeting sex buyers have in the past 12-months won the support of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, French MPs and Canadian MPs – and have been the norm in Sweden for over 12-years. They have also been introduced in major US Cities from Boston to San Francisco, from LA to New York.
It is now time for us to join these countries and cities and tell pimps that Ireland is no longer open for business for traffickers, pimps and thugs”
Speaking by video link to the Conference from Brussels, the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Myria Vassiliadou, spoke of the importance of tackling demand:
“The EU Anti-Trafficking Directive is very clear on reducing demand. Member states have a legal obligation to discourage and reduce the demand, and raise awareness about this phenomenon. The directive further asks member states to at the very least consider making it a crime to use the services of victims of trafficking, with the knowledge that the person is a victim.
In 2016 the Commission will produce a report assessing the legal measures some member states have taken to criminalise the use of services of victims of trafficking, and purpose further legislation.
That is why we need to start considering difficult questions, such as, is there another area of crime where those who knowingly participate in exploitation are not criminalised?”
Prostitution recognised as sexual violence by Oireachtas Justice Committee
Call for sex buyer laws reiterated in second report from Committee
Issue of migrant victims of domestic violence needs urgent action
Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
The report by the Oireachtas Justice Committee on Sexual and Domestic Violence has been welcomed by the Immigrant Council of Ireland as a blueprint to assist people who are being abused, exploited and subjected to violence.
The Council says the decision to recognise prostitution as a form of sexual violence is important and should form the basis of future legislation.
The Immigrant Council has welcomed recommendations to assist people trapped in violent relationships because of fear of deportation.
Responding to the publication of the report, Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Council said:
“By identifying prostitution as sexual violence the Committee has again made clear that it is time for laws which will curb abuse, exploitation and trafficking. The members have reiterated that the best way to do this is to introduce laws which will target the buyers of sex.
The members have also been very clear that the seller of sex should not be criminalised or stigmatised in any way.
As a member of the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign we are asking the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, TD to include the findings in her consideration of future laws on prostitution.
In addition, we welcome the recognition by the Committee that there are people in this country who feel trapped in violent relationships because their visa is dependent on their spouse.
A number of emergency measures are being proposed to ensure these victims can be reassured that when they come forward they will be offered help, support and services rather than being forced to leave the country.
The proposal to exempt people from habitual residence requirements in emergency situations and to provide supports in foreign languages, with translators, are particularly welcome.
We will study the proposals together with other partners who work in the area of sexual and domestic violence and with the committee to ensure all the shortfalls it has identified are addressed.
Time for Ireland to Turn Off the Red Light
Article for Irish Examiner (15th Oct 2014)
Time for Ireland to Turn Off the Red Light By Lauren Hersh
Iryna, a college student, was 18 when she was lured into the sex trade in New York City by her "boyfriend", who promised to love her and care for her. Instead he beat her, repeatedly raped her and sold her into prostitution.
But Iryna's trafficker was not the only one who caused her significant harm. Sex buyers, who also viciously abused her physically, sexually and emotionally, made the selling of Iryna a very lucrative business for her trafficker.
On both sides of The Atlantic, the scourge of human trafficking is destroying the lives of women and girls. In New York, women like Iryna are sold and bought by traffickers and buyers, who until now have acted with impunity. The situation in Dublin is no different. Irish sex trade survivors, like author of ‘Paid For’ Rachel Moran, describe the repeated rapes and relentless violence faced at the hands of exploiters, most of whom were never held accountable.
But the tide is turning. In Europe and beyond, there is a growing recognition that although responding to human trafficking situations is important, prevention is key. Without consumers of commercial sex, traffickers would lack the financial incentive to sell victims. To effectively eliminate sex trafficking, traffickers and buyers must be held criminally accountable, while victims must be provided with exit strategies from prostitution and services.
In Sweden, enforcement of laws known as the Nordic Model, where traffickers and purchasers of prostitution are criminalized and people in prostitution are given services, has proven successful. Since its implementation in 1999, Sweden has reported a decrease in street prostitution and sex trafficking. Norway has also seen a significant decline in both street and indoor prostitution just a few years after initiating the model.
Recognizing the success of the Nordic Model and the importance of targeting demand, parliaments of the European Union and the Council of Europe have adopted resolutions recommending that member states adopt the Model. In the United States, jurisdictions are recognizing that in order to end sex trafficking, demand for commercial sex must be reduced. In Chicago and Boston, widespread sex buyer operations have been implemented by law enforcement to eliminate the exploitative and violent sex trade and eradicate sex trafficking. In New York, the increased crackdown on sex buyers by police and prosecutors underscores the notion that if no one were buying sex, traffickers would not be selling people.
Many have been watching Ireland from abroad these last several years, hopeful that it too would join the countries successfully tackling this problem by going after the buyer who participates in the exploitation.
Two and a half years ago when the then Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, TD announced a Government Review of the laws on Prostitution, many were optimistic that this would be a swift, just and important change. Instead, it has been a slow, yet meaningful process.
Last June, the Oireachtas Justice Committee unanimously backed sex buyer laws and set out a blueprint for the Government to follow.
After 800 written submissions and six months of hearings during which Senior Gardaí made clear that Irish prostitution is run by criminal gangs ‘foreign and domestic’, the Committee made it's call. The proceeds of these crime have been included in the national accounts which confirm that prostitution is part of a €1.2 billion a year racket.
Survivors and more than 70 organizations which support the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign continue to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that criminalizes traffickers and buyers, not the people they exploit. And it they are in good company. Last week, Minister of Justice Frances Fitzgerald, TD stated, “If the demand for the services of victims can be reduced, and hopefully eliminated, the business model of trafficking can be significantly undermined.”
As the EU marks its annual Anti Trafficking Day I am honored to be in Dublin where I will share a platform with Minister Fitzgerald at an event hosted by the Immigrant Council of Ireland. I hope that together we can embark on the next step of this process.
We owe it to the victims, many of whom have bravely come forward to relive their stories of abuse and exploitation before the Justice Committee to bring what has been a long-running process towards a conclusion.
The commitment of Minister Fitzgerald to legislate is a very welcome sign as is her expressed interest in introducing measures to reduce demand – the next logical step is the introduction of laws targeting the buyers of sex.
The world is watching events in Ireland. It's time we stop tolerating sex trafficking and the violence inherent in the sex trade. It's time for Ireland to Turn off the Red Light and make the Emerald Isle an undesirable destination for traffickers and exploiters.
Lauren Hersh is Director of Anti-Trafficking Policy and Advocacy of the Sanctuary for Families in New York. Previously she also served as a Prosecutor covering Brooklyn and was a Chief of the one of the first Sex Trafficking Units in the United States.
Budget 2015: an opportunity for real reforms
Justice Budget must deliver real reforms
Garda recruitment must increase diversity
For immediate release
The new €2.2 billion budget in the area of Justice must be followed by genuine reforms within the Gardaí and the Immigration system, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
Welcoming the announcement the Council said the expenditure represents an opportunity to deliver a diverse Garda force to reflect the communities which it protects and serves and to clear the backlog in the immigration system.
Responding to the Budget, Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“The €141m increase announced in the Budget is an investment which must deliver reforms which will give us a Justice system which is modern, transparent and fair to all.
We welcome the announcement of a further intake of 200 Gardaí into the College in Templemore and would ask that the continued recruitment would be used to ensure that the force draws its members from a more diverse base.
An effort must be made to encourage people of a migrant background to apply. By ensuring diversity within the ranks we can ensure the Gardaí can build a strong relationship with communities and people who because of past experience may lack trust in policing.
In addition we would ask that extra resources would be committed, in particular the use of new technology, to end the queues outside the Immigration Service on Burgh Quay. It is unacceptable in a modern democracy that people and families have to start queueing at 3 and 4 O’Clock in the morning.
The funding announced in Budget 2015 is an opportunity for real change and we are committed to working with the Minister to ensure reforms are delivered.”