|Med Drownings - Ireland must speak out to end the crisis||19 Apr 2015|
|Answering 5,000 calls for help each year: Our Helpline service||16 Apr 2015|
|Sex-trafficking victims ID procedures must be reviewed||16 Apr 2015|
|Upholding Rights for victims of trafficking - Update||16 Apr 2015|
|The UK Modern Slavery Act: Template for Ireland or False Friend?||13 Apr 2015|
|Sex Buyer Laws - Update from Swedish Police||12 Apr 2015|
|Couple United!||10 Apr 2015|
|Ireland’s moment to #endtrafficking has arrived||08 Apr 2015|
|School Admission policies must smash barriers to integration||07 Apr 2015|
|'Leadership Needed to #Stopracism' Column by Brian Killoran||07 Apr 2015|
reland must use its voice to end Mediterranean drownings Irish Ministers must ensure EU acts with humanity
Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
Irish ministers must speak out at EU level to end the mass drownings in the Mediterranean and demand a response which has a humanitarian focus, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
Responding to the latest capsize and reports of hundreds of people missing at sea, Brian Killoran, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“People across Ireland will be stunned at the latest reports from the Mediterranean and the expected loss of life on a huge scale.
Our political leaders must use the expected EU crisis meetings of Foreign and Interior Ministers to give voice to that shock – and demand that search and rescue operations halted last year are re-instated.
It is clear the policy of halting search and rescue has failed as a deterrent and has led to many more deaths.
We share the view of many international human rights groups that the tragedy now unfolding is a man made one – which demands an EU wide response.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland is partnered with many European human rights networks and will be joining them in the coming days in demanding a humanitarian rather than a fortress response to this crisis.”
By Stephen O’Flynn, Information and Legal Support Officer of the Immigrant Council of Ireland
The Immigrant Council of Ireland operates a telephone information service which is designed to assist individuals to understand the immigration system in Ireland. We provide a national telephone service, which is open four mornings a week to the general public.
Our aim is to help individuals and families access their rights and entitlements in an often difficult and unclear environment. The service is confidential, between the caller and the information provider. We do not share any information about individual cases with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. We seek to provide non-judgmental information that can assist individuals in furthering their situation.
We aim to impart information as clearly as possible. As many individuals calling our service will speak English as their second language, we are sensitive to the need to explain the Irish immigration system in a way that the caller understands clearly what their option are. We also seek to provide information in as many languages as possible, at the moment we have information officers who speak English, Russian, Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish, although this changes periodically.
The immigration system of Ireland is the primary focus of our helpline; however we may be able to refer you to other relevant organisations if you have issues concerning social benefits, homelessness, family law and criminal matters.
Last year we responded to 5126 calls. We dealt with 1423 citizenship queries, with information queries provided on issues such as what constitutes reckonable residence for a citizenship application, and when can a minor child apply for naturalisation.
Another crucial area with which we provide assistance is to individuals seeking family reunification. We answered in excess of 869 queries of this nature. If you are an Irish citizen, an EEA citizen, or are a Non-EEA citizen and you are looking for your family member to reside with you in the State, slightly different law and policy may apply and we can provide guidance in this area.
This may involve a person already in the State making a residency application, or alternatively, someone currently residing in another country making a visa application to enter and reside in Ireland. We are also experienced in providing information to undocumented people residing in the State, and to those seeking to renew their current immigration permissions, as well as first time applications in areas such as employment permits and international students.
While it most cases it is sufficient to provide information over the telephone, there are some cases where we may deem it valuable for individuals to attend our office in person. We would encourage any non-EEA national experiencing domestic violence to call our helpline, and if appropriate, we will do our utmost to meet them in person to provide in-depth information about their options.
The information phone line is an important tool for the Immigrant Council to be aware of general trends in immigration in Ireland and the experience of migrants. We consult with our solicitors in the Law Centre, and may try to provide direct legal representation to assist some of these callers. We look for calls concerning cases of strategic value that will further our ambition of a fair and just immigration system. Other factors the Law Centre will consider include the vulnerability of the client, and their financial means to afford private legal representation, and our own capacity. The Immigrant Council has successfully advocated for many individuals and families through its Law Centre where an initial contact was made via our information helpline.
If you have an immigration issue in Ireland, please do not hesitate to call, and we will do our utmost to provide information to assist you.
The phone number is 016740200 and the phone line is open 10am till 1pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Sex-trafficking victims ID procedures must be reviewed after High Court Judgement
Two-thirds of human trafficking is for sexual exploitation
13-month delay in National Action Plan on Trafficking must end Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
The procedure of identifying and supporting victims of human trafficking must be immediately reviewed following the High Court Judgement which criticised the current process, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The Council, which represented 19 victims of sex trafficking in the past year, says the judgement in a case of labour exploitation also has direct consequences for women and girls tricked into coming to Ireland and then forced into prostitution.
It says the 13-month delay in publishing a National Action Plan on Human Trafficking must be ended and improved procedures put in place as a matter of urgency.
Brian Killoran, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland added:
“Sexual exploitation lies behind two-third of all human trafficking within the European Union and Ireland is not immune from this crime.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland has been seeking the immediate publication of the National Action Plan on Trafficking with improved procedures for identifying victims of trafficking and to ensure proper protections and supports are in place.
The treatment of the victim of labour exploitation in this case, highlighted by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), has brought the issues into sharp focus. The MRCI are to be congratulated for their work in this area.”
Speaking from a meeting of EU partner organisations in Zagreb which is reviewing early legal intervention for victims of trafficking, Nusha Yonkova, Anti Trafficking Manager added:
“Ireland has international commitments to honour in protecting victims of trafficking, and has been criticised by the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the US State Department for falling short.
This High Court Judgement has again underlined the urgent need for action to correct these shortfalls.”
By Heilean Rosenstock-Armie Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Writing from Zagreb, Croatia
Ensuring that victims of human trafficking have their rights, protections and supports guaranteed is the subject of discussions we are having with partners from 5 other European countries over the coming days.
Our partners on the EU funded project ‘Upholding Rights: Early Legal Intervention (ELI) for Victims of Human Trafficking’ are also frontline agencies and Independent Law Centres with first-hand experience of the complex issues involved in this crime.
We are engaged in detailed research which we hope will help formulate future policy and laws at both a national and European level to ensure that people who have been trafficked are offered every possible support.
Since starting the project last year we have already concluded a comparative report which looked at each of our countries. Our findings not only highlight differences in policies and laws but also in the way they are implemented.
Worryingly we found that there are no 'formal routes, protocols or procedures in place' to guarantee victims of trafficking proper access to lawyers as early as possible.
The report makes a number of recommendations which all partners agree should be implemented across all counties – these include:
* Standardised procedures to identify victims of trafficking without prejudice to nationality and legal status
* Early access to lawyers for all detected victims of trafficking covering all aspects of law
* Minimum accommodation standards for victims of trafficking – the end of the use of Direct Provision Centres
* Increased education and public awareness campaigns on trafficking
Of course our discussions in Croatia are taking place at a crucial time in Ireland’s response to this crime – with the Government about to deliver the long promised second national action plan on human trafficking.
The plan represents an important opportunity to review our response as a country to human trafficking and ensure that we have robust protection measures in place.
We are urging the Minister for Justice to study the shortfalls highlighted and ensure they are acted upon.
It should be noted that the ELI comparative report is also critical of the practice in Ireland of placing victims of sex trafficking into Direct Provision Centres and calls for the appointment of an Independent National Rapporteur to ensure robust measures are in place to protect victims.
This post already exists in many other countries, including in our nearest neighbour where the office holder also has jurisdiction over Northern Ireland. Through their offices rapporteurs give an honest independent assessment of the measures each country has in place.
In addition we want the Government to rapidly progress its plans for laws targeting the buyers of sex so as the business model for pimps and traffickers is wrecked. The relevant legislation is due to published before the summer.
We need to understand that this is a complex crime and it involves a comprehensive response.
This week and in the coming weeks regular updates on the ELI project will be posted on www.immigrantcouncil.ie and across our Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Together with our partners we are committed to working with lawmakers across the EU to ensure this most lucrative of crimes has a robust multi-national response which protects victims while also targeting those whose actions are fueling human rights abuses.
Dr Clíodhna Murphy, Lecturer In Law, Maynooth University writes for www.immigrantnews.eu
Heralded by the UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, as “an historic milestone” which brings the UK “closer to consigning slavery to the history books”, the UK Parliament adopted the Modern Slavery Act on 26 March.
The Act brings together and simplifies the existing UK law on slavery and trafficking and also contains a number of important innovations, including potential life imprisonment for traffickers, asset confiscation rules and a new Anti-Slavery Commissioner. Victims of trafficking are provided with a statutory defence in order to ensure that they are not inappropriately criminalised, and provision is made for “Reparation Orders” to be awarded by way of compensation. Also introduced is a requirement for large companies to annually report on efforts to identify and address modern slavery in their supply chains.
The Act has been broadly welcomed, including by campaigning groups such as Anti-Slavery International. The legislation also reflects developments in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which requires States to put in place an effective regime for deterring, investigating and punishing slavery, servitude and forced labour.
The most contentious aspect of the legislative process was the failure of the Act to reform the migration status of overseas domestic workers in the UK to better protect this group. The terms of the “overseas domestic workers visa” ties these workers to their employer, with specialist NGOs such as Kalayaan arguing that this in itself creates conditions ripe for slavery and severe exploitation.
Slavery in Ireland
While the scale of the issue in the UK may be larger, it is beyond doubt that a significant problem of slavery and trafficking exists in Ireland. The Immigrant Council of Ireland has long advocated for and represented victims of sex-trafficking, in particular, while the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland has produced reports on the trafficking and labour exploitation of those in the domestic work sector and cannabis production.
In 2012, the High Court case of Hussein v Labour Court and Younis vividly demonstrated the gaps in individual rights protection created by the intersection of Irish employment and immigration rules. Mr Younis had been required to work for seven days a week for a number of years and was paid “what amounted to pocket money”, but was told by the High Court that he could not pursue the employer for breaches of labour law as he was an undocumented migrant.
In the wake of the Hussein decision, a number of changes were made to the Irish system to deal with the injustices which had been highlighted. Forced labour is now a crime, under the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2013. In addition, the Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014 means that undocumented migrants who are undocumented through no fault of their own may pursue their employer for outstanding remuneration. However, these piecemeal amendments do not constitute an anti-slavery code along the lines of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Should Ireland seek to emulate the Modern Slavery Act?
As academic Judy Fudge has noted, it is difficult to criticise the Modern Slavery Act, as “no one is ‘for’ slavery”. However, there are a number of reasons why the Irish government would be best to concentrate reforming energies elsewhere, rather than seek to simply emulate the approach taken in the UK Act.
First, the Act’s main focus is on the criminalisation and prosecution of slavery and trafficking offences rather than redress for victims, although the protection of victims was strengthened somewhat during the process due to pressure from campaigners. It also fails to address the obstacles faced by migrant workers, in particular, to seeking redress through the ordinary employment law system - a ready-made system designed to protect employment rights so that exploitation does not reach the severity of slavery, servitude or forced labour. These obstacles are practical (including cuts to legal aid) and legal (illegality of the contract of employment of most undocumented migrant workers).
Second, there must be question marks over the effectiveness of legislation seeking to address labour exploitation and trafficking, in the broader context of ever-tightening immigration rules and the devaluing of migrants’ contribution to the labour market and the economy. The Modern Slavery Bill stands in counterpoint to the increasingly hostile environment for migrants being created in the UK, including through restrictive changes to family reunification rules, imposing reporting requirements for landlords where they believe that a tenant may be undocumented, and the continued government refusal to acknowledge the vulnerabilities created by tying domestic workers to their employer.
Overall, the Modern Slavery Act contains some significant changes which may assist those who suffer the worst forms of labour and sexual exploitation. However, it does not address the root causes of such treatment and certainly will not make a difference to most migrant workers enduring the everyday indignity of low wages, poor working conditions and limited access to employment redress mechanisms.
So what should Ireland do?
From this perspective, rather than trying to ape the UK modern slavery package, Ireland would be better to undergo two, more fundamental, reforms (quite aside from a fundamental review of our trafficking framework, which was argued for in this newspaper by Nusha Yonkovo last week).
The first would be to further change the Employment Permits regime to fully legalise the employment contracts of all undocumented workers and thereby provide equal access to labour rights. Although this may seem radical in the Irish context, most European countries (the UK being a notable exception) provide a certain minimum level of employment protection for all workers, notwithstanding their undocumented status.
The second is to pursue the long-awaited comprehensive reform of the immigration system, providing on a statutory footing for secure and durable statuses, family reunification, and access to public services. The legal recognition of migrants’ contribution to the Irish economy and society is a vital, if intangible, element of tackling ‘modern slavery’.
Dr Clíodhna Murphy is a lecturer in law in
Maynooth University. She researches and publishes mainly in the areas of
migration and human rights law.
Sex Buyer Laws - Update from Swedish Police Photo credit: Helena Wahlman- Sweden
Simon Haggstrom of the Stockholm Police has sent us this update over the weekend:
Yesterday the Prostitution Unit received a call from the staff at a hotel who suspected ongoing prostitution in one of their rooms.
The room was put under surveillance and two sexbuyers were arrested. When the detectives interviewed the woman she broke down and told us that she was stranded in Sweden without any money or possibility to make it home on her own.
The non governmental organization Talita was contacted and after approval by the Social Services the woman was brought to Talita.
Today she boarded the plane back home to her family in Russia.
For us it was just another day at work but for this young woman she did not have to sell her body in order to reunite with her family. Sometimes giving just a little bit of our time can change the entire situation for another human being.
I really want to pay extra tribute to the Talita organization for always being there and helping us out. Their service and commitment is truly amazing. Many times we call late evenings with urgent cases but they are always there to help.
This case really shows how we are totally dependent on external partners in our fight against prostitution and human trafficking.
This is a brilliant example of what happens when hotels, police, social services and non governmental organizations co-operate. The responsibility cannot be put on one authority or organization alone. The best result is accomplished when everyone takes their responsibility and works together!
We received a call through our partners at the Citizens Information Centre about an American citizen, Ms Crystal Avila, who had been refused her application for residency in Ireland with her Irish partner of 13 years, Mr Emmet Hand.
Her application for residency was refused as it was determined Mr Hand was unable to support his long term partner in the State. Mr Hand is currently in receipt of disability allowance for a serious medical condition.
Through our Independent Law Centre we made representations that the Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification used by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service should not be interpreted in a manner which is discriminatory to the family members of Irish nationals with serious medical conditions. We also provided extensive evidence that the couple had cohabited together for over 12 years.
Our legal team were successful in obtaining a residency permission for Ms. Avila, so that the couple can continue to reside together in Ireland. Here Ms. Avila (Centre) is pictured with our Information Officer Stephen O'Flynn and our Solicitor Rosemary Kingston O'Connell.
By Nusha Yonkova, Anti-Trafficking Manager, Immigrant Council of Ireland
A key moment has arrived in efforts to curb human trafficking in Ireland and offer hope to those tricked into coming to our communities with false promises of a new life, only to be forced into sexual, labour, or other forms of exploitation.
At the Immigrant Council of Ireland we know at first hand the human misery which lies at the heart of this evil trade, one of the most lucrative crimes worldwide.
Since we started working in this area we have supported and represented more than 60 victims of sex-trafficking. As an Independent Law Centre we have worked with these women to restart their lives and leave behind the thugs who exploited and abused them.
It is worth noting that 2014 was our busiest year to date with 19 victims supported. I am glad to report that we were successful in resolving 11 of these cases and continue to work towards positive outcomes in the other cases.
Though each of the cases are unique, a common theme emerges from them: a young girl sold by family members and tricked into coming to Ireland, where on arrival their dream turns into a nightmare. Often our clients found themselves in brothels within hours of arriving at Dublin Airport.
What follows are months or even years of being raped several times a day in brothels the length and breadth of the country, as pimps move them around to meet the demand of buyers for ‘fresh flesh’.
After years of campaigning with a variety of like-minded organisations including the 70-plus groups which make up the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign we have achieved many successes along the way, and now we stand on the verge of changing Irish law forever.
Backed by Irish and International research we believe that the best way to end this crime is to target demand, in other words people whose actions fuel these crimes including the buyers of sex.
We have raised this issue with politicians at every possible occasion – and now enjoy unanimous support from the Oireachtas Justice Committee, the 4 biggest political parties, as well as local authorities across the country.
The Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald, TD, has committed to publishing a new sexual offences bill which will include sex buyer laws before the summer.
It is important that we keep the political pressure on the Government, and also the opposition, to honour this commitment. We are asking people to add their voice at this critical moment in the campaign by going towww.turnofftheredlight.ie/action<http://www.turnofftheredlight.ie/action>
Changing the law will bring us into line with countries like Sweden, Iceland and Canada as well as all major US cities, and also with votes at the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.
However human trafficking is a complex crime which requires a complex response of which sex buyer laws are just one aspect.
We are also asking the Government to deliver on a 13-month old promise to publish a new National Action Plan to combat human trafficking.
This plan is an opportunity to correct international criticisms of Ireland for failing victims of trafficking.
Together with other frontline agencies the Immigrant Council of Ireland wants an Independent National Rapporteur appointed to ensure that our laws and procedures on human trafficking are the most robust in Europe.
Such appointments have been made in other EU countries, including our nearest neighbour.
A priority for any rapporteur is to review the way Ireland formally identifies victims of human trafficking, as the current system is overly complicated and is denying victims their most basic rights.
We are also asking that the current practice of placing victims of human trafficking within the Direct Provision System is ended immediately. The centres simply do not meet our obligations as a modern EU country to protect and support victims.
In direct provision centres the women are left vulnerable to further sexual exploitation and are also within reach of the organised crime gangs who abused them. The gangs can use this to force their victims back into prostitution and to withdraw testimony in criminal investigations.
The opportunity to deal a real blow to the thugs who run human trafficking and the pimps who have brought this crime to every Irish county has arrived.
We cannot allow it to slip by.
It is important the public’s voice is heard on this. Please add yours atwww.turnofftheredlight.ie/action
“Classrooms and playgrounds must reflect the wider community”
Minister’s proposals will require detailed examination
Future school admission policies must smash through barriers which have promoted exclusivity and prevented integration in many classrooms, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The Council is giving a cautious welcome to plans by the Education Minister to abolish waiting lists and cap admissions for children of past pupils, but says her proposals will require detailed examination and should form part of a wider National Integration Strategy
It is warning that to date a piecemeal approach and lack of leadership on integration has created divisions which could last for a generation.
Brian Killoran, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland:
“Our classrooms like other aspects of Irish life are suffering because of the failure of successive Governments to prioritise integration. In many schools children of a migrant background are effectively been excluded by policies which favour others.
The result speaks for itself with figures confirming that about a quarter of our schools are accommodating 80% of migrant children.
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan’s proposal to reverse this by banning waiting lists and by introducing a 10% cap on places reserved for children of past pupils are a welcome step in the right direction.
However we note that at least some of the proposals will be introduced by way of regulation rather than legislation, the Immigrant Council will examine Minister O’Sullivan’s plans in the coming days.
It is important that swift action is taken so that those barriers faced by families of a migrant background are lifted and confined to history.
Meanwhile we continue to call on the Government to introduce a National Integration Strategy to ensure fairness and equality across all aspects of our public services. Rules and regulations which were written for a different era must be replaced by those fitting of a modern inclusive democracy. We have seen in other areas of Europe the divisions, tensions and even violence which can occur when there is a lack of leadership on this issue.
By Brian Killoran, CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland
This month will see the launch of the largest anti-racism campaign ever undertaken in this country.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland together with our partners in public transport companies and Dublin City Council will be using thousands of poster sites to send the message that there is no acceptable level of racism.
On buses, trains and trams as well as in the busiest bus and rail stations in the country we will be telling people that if they experience or see racism they should report it.
The campaign comes at an important time as the Government continues to review anti-hate crime laws.
As a frontline agency the Immigrant Council of Ireland believes that the current laws either are not being enforced properly – or are out of date and simply not fit for purpose given the huge social changes which have occurred in the past two decades.
Our view that something is wrong is supported by the 51% increase in reports to email@example.com in the past year with 217 cases.
These figures speak for themselves and show that we can no longer be complacent.
While Ireland may have escaped the swing to the far right which is evident in other parts of Europe, it is also true that incidents of racism are occurring on a regular basis.
We should also be clear that when we talk about racism we do not mean misunderstood jokes or clumsy remarks – in fact 10% of the cases we record involve physical violence; that is someone taking a punch or a kicking for the simple reason that they are perceived to be different.
Through our casework we have identified a number of areas which we believe require immediate attention including:
- Improved procedures for reporting and recording racism to the Gardaí
- Anti-racism policies to be introduced for every public office in the country
- A full and urgent review of existing legislation
- The introduction of a new National Action Plan to ensure a co-ordinated response to racism
At the Immigrant Council of Ireland we have undertaken a number of initiatives. In addition to our reporting and support service operating through firstname.lastname@example.org we have been pro-active with projects to increase awareness and prevent discrimination.
Our Ambassadors for Change programme identified a number of young successful migrants who have been to schools and colleges to act as mentors – they also feature across radio, television and in the press to spread their positive experiences to a wider audience.
We have developed a template anti-racism policy which schools can incorporate into their anti-bullying policies.
As with all our work we believe that engagement is the best way to bring about change and we are actively working with the Gardaí, the Government and politicians from all sides at Leinster House to ensure that robust measures are put in place to combat racism.
Our team has also been identifying trends and this year will also see us carry out important work to combat islamophobia – we are building our relationship with the Muslim community and I look forward to updating you as the project progresses.
In the coming weeks our new #Stopracism awareness campaign will start rolling out across Ireland’s public transport network. It is an important opportunity to reach out to victims and assure them that there is nothing to fear in coming forward.
We have in the past two-years mounted transport campaigns in the Greater Dublin Area, but now for the first time ever we are seeing an anti-racism campaign go nationwide.
The campaign has the potential to be a game-changer not just in telling victims and witnesses to come forward – but also in providing important information which will form public policy into the future.
If your experience or see racism then report it email@example.com
Ireland is not – and never has been – a racist nation. In fact internationally we have a proud tradition of speaking out whenever we see segregation, hatred or wrong-doing elsewhere. Now it is time to ensure we have stringent measures to prevent any form of hatred getting a foothold here at home.