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Ireland is failing to identify and protect victims of slavery

Date Released: 02 December 2013

The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) will mark International Day for the Abolition of Slavery with a national conference on Identifying Victims of Trafficking for Forced Labour.

Victims of slavery, international experts and national stakeholders, along with speakers from the Department of Justice and the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), will discuss how Ireland can best identify and protect victims of slavery.

Maria was a victim of domestic slavery in Ireland. “I was kept in domestic slavery in Ireland for 10 years. I feel like I lost 10 years of my life. Now, even though I am no longer in slavery, I have nothing. I have spent the last year and half in a direct provision hostel, waiting for the investigation to finish,” Maria said. “All I can do is wait. I don’t know what to expect for the future.”

MRCI has assisted over 200 victims of forced labour in Ireland in recent years, and says victims are being failed by the State: left in limbo, unprotected and unable to move on.

Speaking before the event, MRCI’s Strategic Advocacy Officer Pablo Rojas Coppari said, “Victims are not even being given the time they need to recover. If Ireland is serious about combating human trafficking and protecting victims, people need to be officially identified as victims quickly – within 24 hours of their escape.”

Mr Coppari continued, “They should then be granted a 60-day Recovery and Reflection period: this would provide security, protection and access to the services they need to help them to overcome their trauma. Victim statements should only be taken by the police after this period, when the victim is better able to speak about their experience.”

Experts from GRETA recently urged Ireland to protect victims by providing secure and safe accommodation – rather than the current policy of placing victims in Direct Provision – and to step up victim identification and protection.

Speaking before the conference, Alina Bra┼čoveanu, First Vice-President of GRETA said, “The Irish authorities have taken important steps to develop the legal and institutional framework for action against human trafficking. GRETA urges the authorities to now ensure that all victims of trafficking are properly identified and to promote multi-agency involvement in victim identification by formalising the role and input of specialised NGOs.”

Ms Bra┼čoveanu concluded, “The Government should ensure that all possible victims of trafficking are offered a recovery and reflection period and all the measures of protection and assistance envisaged in Article 12, paragraphs 1 and 2, of the Convention during this period.”


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