Today (18 October) marks EU Anti-trafficking Day. According to the European Commission, over 7,000 people become victims of human trafficking in the EU, with 22% of them being children.
In the Republic of Ireland, ITF are signatories to an open letter sent to the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, urging her to include immigration permission for presumed and identified victims of trafficking in the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences and Human Trafficking) Bill 2023.
Alongside other organisations including the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MCRI), Immigrant Council of Ireland and Act to Prevent Trafficking, ITF raised concerns that the proposed legislation does not provide immigration permission for presumed and identified victims of trafficking. The ITF has made numerous submissions to the Garda Siochána (Irish Police) and Police Service of Northern Ireland over the years for the admission of migrant fishers to the National Referral Mechanism for suspected victims of human trafficking (NRM) on both sides of the border. Some 29 fishers have been admitted into the NRMs to date, but no prosecutions of the vessel owners have ever followed.
Many traffickers use threats of arrest and deportation to control their victims. Therefore, the provision of immigration permission is critical, encouraging more people to come forward and enabling better access to services and supports.
ITF previously reported concerns over human trafficking in European road transport, an industry plagued by exploitation of drivers and human rights abuses, including:
- Drivers being forced to rest, sleep, eat and live in their vehicles for months.
- Drivers being supplied with false documentation about their employment status.
- Drivers being forced to stay in their vehicles with no access to clean water, functioning toilets or sanitation facilities.
ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton said: “Alarmingly, human trafficking is a growing problem in the transport industry, but ITF are very clear that there should be no place for it here. Nobody should be subject to this inhumane treatment that is all too common. European governments and multinational companies can no longer turn a blind eye to this exploitation.”
ETF General Secretary Livia Spera said: “The EU has the legal instrument for preventing and combating human trafficking and protecting the victims. Existing legislation needs teeth. Today on the EU anti-trafficking day, we call on all EU member states’ law to strengthen enforcement, national legislation and resources for judicial authorities to effectively combat and eradicate human trafficking in all its forms of exploitation.”