Care order granted for child trafficked into Ireland

Tusla concerned girl could be taken back to Middle East for exploitation - CCLRP report

Tusla and the Red Cross had been unable to contact the girl’s family, the court heard.

Tusla and the Red Cross had been unable to contact the girl’s family, the court heard.

 

An interim care order has been granted for a girl who was trafficked into Ireland for forced labour, in the first ‘virtual hearing’ of a case at the District Court.

The case, held in recent weeks, was heard in camera and parties ‘attended’ by video conference. It is the first case, held under Covid-19 restrictions, reported on and published by the Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP).

The project was established in 2012 under the Child Care Act to report on and examine child-care proceedings before the courts. It will publish cases held under current restrictions as they arise rather than waiting for its usual mid-year publication of numerous reports in July.

It is also commenting on how Covid-19 is impacting on vulnerable children. Among issues raised is the absence of structures to allow these children interact with people outside their household.

“There appears to be no plan to engage in a structured face-to-face manner with vulnerable children over the coming four-month period until schools re-open on a phased basis from September. In the context of child protection and welfare, we believe this to be an inadequate State response,” says the project. It suggests schools could be used as settings for professionals to interact with these children.

The case, details of which were published on Wednesday, concerned a teenage girl who had arrived into Ireland this year from a Middle Eastern country.

Her social worker said she had been referred to Tusla by the international protection office, which accepts and examines applications for asylum, and which said she needed to be taken into care.

She said she had “escaped from the family she was working for” in the Middle East, who had brought her to Ireland, the CCLRP report says.

“She and her family were immigrants to that country, and she worked for the family four days a week, returning to her family at weekends. One weekend she returned home to find her family had disappeared, which, according to the social worker, was apparently not unusual in that country.”

Family

The family made her work seven days’ a week and told her they were bringing her on holiday.

“She travelled with them to a country she now knew to be Ireland, where she continued to work seven days a week until she managed to escape.”

Tusla and the Red Cross had been unable to contact her family and Tusla was concerned she could be brought back to the Middle East for exploitation.

The judge enquired about the girl’s health needs, and the social worker said that she had been admitted to Temple St hospital with an illness, but this was being appropriately managed with diet and medication.

“The judge ruled that an interim care order should be made, and the application for a full care order adjourned. She said she was satisfied . . . was a vulnerable young person, that she was the age she said she was, that she had arrived in Ireland as described, and that the agency had taken the appropriate steps to protect her.”

Tusla said efforts to locate her parents or family were continuing.