US criticises Ireland for insufficient action on modern slavery
Ireland US criticises Ireland for insufficient action on modern slavery
People trafficking report highlights forced labour in Irish fishing industry
Ireland has been downgraded by the US State Departmentâs Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report for failing to do enough to tackle modern slavery.
The 2018 TIP report, released on Thursday, gives Ireland a Tier 2 ranking, on a par with Indonesia and India, because of what it describes as the governmentâs failure to adequately protect victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and labour abuse, and failure to convict traffickers.
In highly critical findings, the report highlights forced labour in the Irish fishing industry, and the stateâs prosecution of Vietnamese and Chinese men for cannabis cultivation despite indications that they were victims of modern slavery.
The annual TIP report is the principal diplomatic tool used by the US to press foreign governments to act against trafficking, and Irelandâs Tier 2 ranking is highly embarrassing for an advanced economy, according to Mark Lagon, former TIP ambassador at the State Department.
âIt is a credit to the credibility of the US report that the US is willing to be candid about another western advanced market democracy,â he said. âWe have learned that Global North nations like Ireland have permitted ungoverned and grey zones to allow human slavery in fishing to flourish. High-capacity governments must close loopholes permitting gross exploitation.â'We thought slavery had gone away': African men exploited on Irish boats Read more
The report notes concern that the Irish governmentâs own immigration permit scheme for trawler crew from outside the European Economic Area is making men vulnerable to forced labour.
The International Transport Workersâ Federation said the downgrade of Ireland reflected the unionâs own findings that âhuman rights are under constant attack in the fishing sector by unscrupulous and greedy employersâ. The union has begun proceedings in the high court to injunct the governmentâs permit scheme for facilitating modern slavery.
âIt is heartening that a completely independent international body has validated our findings by its decision to downgrade Irelandâs ranking,â the union said. âThe continuing failure of the Irish state to enforce its own laws or heed warnings has left us with no opti on but to initiate legal action against the government.â
A Guardian investigation in 2015 first exposed allegations of labour abuse and trafficking for forced labour in the Irish fishing sector, prompting the Irish government to set up an emergency taskforce.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland also called for urgent action from the Irish government to improve its record. Criticism from the Irish high court and from the Council of Europe have already made clear that the Irish systems for supporting victims of trafficking are inadequate, it commented.
âThe 2018 Trafficking in Persons report provides the most comprehensive global snapshot of the grotesque trade in people, so criticism that Ireland is not meeting minimum standards is grave news,â Nusha Yonkova, the councilâs anti-trafficking expert, said.
Irelandâs Department of Justice said it disagreed with the Tier 2 ranking and had taken it up with the US embassy. âA number of improvements in our systems have been made in the past year,â a spokesman said.
He added that the permit scheme was introduced to meet a need in the fishing industry, and âprovides a regulated process where non-EEA sea fishermen can be employed and protected in accordance with the stateâs labour laws supported by the various enforcement mechanisms in placeâ.Topics
- Fishing industry
- Human rights
- Share on Facebook
- Share on Twitter
- Share via Email
- Share on LinkedIn
- Share on Pinterest
- Share on Google+
- Share on WhatsApp
- Share on Messenger
- Reuse this content