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Ireland and the OSCE pledge to protect domestic workers in diplomatic households

Date Released: 08 January 2014

The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland welcomes a new commitment by all OSCE members to combat trafficking for domestic servitude.

“We have encountered several cases of domestic servitude in diplomatic households here in Dublin,” said MRCI’s Gráinne O’Toole. “Workers are being trafficked to Ireland by diplomatic employees and made work in exploitative and even abusive conditions.”

All 57 members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), including Ireland, have agreed an addendum to the OSCE Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings. Item 1.10 of the Addendum specifies recommended actions at national level, as follows:

"Promoting measures to prevent THB for domestic servitude, inter alia in diplomatic households, to protect domestic workers and inform them of their rights as employees and how to report abuses; ensuring that the victims of THB receive relevant assistance regardless of the employer’s status, recognising the responsibility of the participating states, that their own diplomatic personnel respect local laws, in particular with regard to the employment of domestic workers."

Last month, a case in New York made headlines around the world when a high-profile Indian diplomat and women’s rights advocate was found to be paying her maid just $3.30 an hour. MRCI says similar exploitation is taking place in Ireland.

“Young women have been brought here under false pretences, promised a decent job and a fair salary, but have then found themselves working 12-hour days, 7 days a week, confined to the house and paid a pittance or nothing at all,” continued O’Toole.

“We’re particularly concerned that some embassies are repeat offenders; although the Government is aware of previous exploitation of domestic workers in certain diplomatic households, they continue to allow new workers to be brought in under the exact same conditions. Despite repeated promises from the government to bring in protections there still are no measures or checks to ensure that workers are not being exploited or abused in diplomatic households in Ireland.

“We are optimistic that with this new pledge, the Government’s stated intention to sign the ILO Convention on Domestic Work and bring in specific measures to protect domestic workers in diplomatic households that the rights of vulnerable domestic workers will be actively protected in Ireland,” O’Toole concluded.


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