ITF Critical of Irish Government’s Human Trafficking Record

Source: ITF
Source: ITF

Published Jun 23, 2019 10:20 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. State Department released its 2019 Trafficking in Persons report last week, criticizing the Irish Government’s failure to tackle modern slavery. For the second year in a row, the State Department has placed Ireland in Tier 2, as a result of the Government’s failure to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.

The U.S. State Department has criticized the Government for failing to: 

• Obtain any convictions for human trafficking in the six years that have followed since the introduction of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Act in 2013;
• Prosecute any human traffickers in 2018, including those exploiting migrant fishermen on Irish trawlers; 
• Address the “chronic deficiencies” in victim identification, referral and assistance;
• Provide specialized accommodation or adequate services for victims.

The Tier 2 categorization comes after the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) taking legal action to force the Government to address labor trafficking and human rights abuses caused by its Atypical Work Permit Scheme for non-EEA crew in the Irish Fishing Fleet. 

The settlement agreement reached between the ITF and the Government in April mandated changes in the Scheme to introduce a suite of protections for non-E.U. migrant fishermen, including the right to move job without the consent of their sponsoring employer, the ability to obtain a copy of their contract and information in respect of the rights in their native language and English and the right to be informed of how to lodge a complaint when their rights are violated. 

The Government also pledged to transpose an E.U. Directive governing maximum hours of work, minimum hours of rest and staffing requirements aboard commercial fishing vessels by November 15, despite its failure to previously do so when repeatedly called upon. Yet, says the ITF, the government shows no signs of taking action to implement the agreement to date.  

Ken Fleming, the ITF Coordinator for the United Kingdom and Ireland says: “The Government’s continued failure to demonstrate a clear commitment to tackle trafficking in human beings is not acceptable. The Government can begin by taking action today to implement the agreement reached between the ITF and various Government Departments in April 2019. 

“The Atypical Work Permit Scheme, designed to prevent human trafficking in the fishing industry, had precisely the opposite effect. Despite raising concerns on several occasions,  the ITF was forced to take the Government to court in order to obtain its agreement to reform the Scheme. Yet there’s still no sign of any meaningful reform on the ground.”

He says the country’s reputation is being dragged through the mud by modern-day slave drivers.