Date Released: 16 April 2013
The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) today welcomed the publication of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Bill 2013. The Bill will at last criminalise forced labour (modern-day slavery) in Ireland and protect victims who have been forced to commit begging and other criminal activities, provisions for which MRCI has long campaigned.
Gráinne O’Toole of MRCI stated, “Over the past 6 years, MRCI has seen over 180 cases of forced labour in Ireland. Forced labour is on the increase and without such a law victims of forced labour are not protected. Our experience is that victims will not come forward if there are not clear protections, rights and supports in place.
We have seen cases where victims have been forced to commit criminal activity – such as working in cannabis farms – and are then charged with the offence while the real perpetrator, their employer, walks free. When this Bill is enacted, forced labour will at long last be illegal in Ireland and the authorities will be able to target the real criminals.””
Fauziah Shaari, who was a victim of forced labour in a private home in Ireland, stated “I was treated as a slave. I still have not found justice. The change in the law will help other victims to come forward and will make sure employers involved in forced labour will be punished.”
Gráinne O’Toole finished, “We look forward to the enactment of the law and to its full implementation. The criminalisationof forced labour sends a strong message to employers that inhuman treatment of workers without respect for their human rights will not be tolerated by the Irish State.”