Human trafficking report cites ‘chronic deficiencies’ in Ireland’s handling of victims

US State department report highlights lack of convictions for trafficking

The report made recommendations including  protecting victims from prosecution for crimes they were forced to commit by traffickers and improving access to compensation for victims.

The report made recommendations including protecting victims from prosecution for crimes they were forced to commit by traffickers and improving access to compensation for victims.

 

The US state department has highlighted serious and widespread issues with the identification and treatment of victims of trafficking in Ireland.

Ireland was downgraded to a Tier two country last year and remains at that level, according to the 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report.

The report identified problems in several areas, highlighting the lack of convictions for trafficking; chronic deficiencies in victim identification, referral, and assistance; and the lack of adequate supports for victims.

Director of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI)Edel McGinley said Ireland’s Tier 2 status is “a damning indictment of Government inaction on trafficking”.

“Authorities failed to initiate any prosecutions in 2018 and had chronic deficiencies in victim identification, referral and assistance. The Government lacked specialised accommodation and adequate services for victims,” the report said.

It notes that victims of forced labour have been identified in Ireland in domestic work, the restaurant industry, waste management, fishing, agriculture, and car washing services.

It also notes that although gardaí conducted 70 reviews of cannabis production cases for possible trafficking indicators, they did not identify any victims or overturn any prosecutions as a result of these reviews.

Ms McGinley said questions need to be asked about the level of training and experience of the gardaí who reviewed the cases.

“It is very hard to believe that no victims could be identified among those who have been sent to jail for cannabis cultivation. We’re talking about people incarcerated for crimes they were potentially forced to commit; this is a matter of the utmost severity,”she said.

Recommendations made in the report included protecting victims from prosecution for crimes they were forced to commit by traffickers and improving access to compensation for victims.

It also recommends ending joint workplace inspections by labour inspectors and immigration authorities, which intimidates undocumented potential victims.

Ms McGinley said the recommendations are pragmatic and achievable.

“There is no good reason not to implement them immediately. This requires strong and decisive leadership from the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.”