Date Released: 28 June 2013
The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) today (Friday 28th June) welcomed the long-awaited criminalisation of modern-day slavery in Ireland. The Dáil has passed a Bill inserting a definition of forced labour (otherwise known as modern-day slavery) into Irish law, which will ensure that employers who commit this criminal act can be prosecuted.
Anele Jakiel, a victim of forced labour in Ireland, stated, “We can stand proud today as we fought so hard for the law to be changed. I was trapped in a situation of slavery, alone and afraid; at times I wanted to die because my freedom was taken away from me. I am free now but I am still fighting for justice. The change in the law will help people like me to come forward and will enable the police to bring rogue employers to account for criminal acts and abuses.”
“MRCI and ICTU have campaigned for a number of years for a law to criminalise slavery. We welcome this amendment which will clearly set out the criminal act of slavery.” said Virginija Petrauskaite of MRCI. “Victims will now be able to come forward as the law will explicitly protect them.”
Previously, people subjected to forced labour and slave-like conditions were not fully recognised as victims of a crime, and the perpetrators of forced labour were not criminalised by the Irish State. Now, perpetrators could face life imprisonment.
David Joyce of ICTU stated, “Congress welcomes the inclusion of the forced labour definition. We hope also that protections are provided to victims and that there are provisions for victims of forced and compulsory labour to access redress and compensation.”
Petrauskaite added, “Minister Shatter has committed to bringing in an essential Victim Protection Scheme. We welcome this commitment and seek for this to be completed as a matter of urgency. This will strengthen this amendment and give victims of modern-day slavery the support and protections they need.”