Gardai rescue girls 'trafficked for marriage'
TWO men arrested yesterday as part of an investigation into the trafficking of women from Latvia to Ireland have been released without charge.
The pair were detained after gardai rescued two women from a flat in Dublin yesterday afternoon. The Latvian women, aged 19 and 25, arrived in Dublin last Friday.
The women said they had been promised work on their arrival but instead, were taken to a flat over a retail premises in Palmerstown and told they would have to marry two Asian men. When they refused, they were locked in a bedroom.
It is understood one of the women had a mobile phone concealed on her and managed to send a series of text messages to friends at home who alerted Latvian police.
The Latvian police then passed on the information to gardai and officers from the Garda National Immigration Bureau forced their way into the flat yesterday afternoon and freed the two women.
Two Asian men, one Indian in his 20s and and the other a Pakistani in his 30s, were arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment. They were taken to Ballyfermot garda station for questioning and were released without charge yesterday afternoon. A file on the case is to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Gardai say the women were distressed and traumatised by their ordeal. They are receiving medical attention and being cared for by gardai and the HSE.
A worker in the nearby Mace grocery store said he saw the two arrested men regularly in the store over the past five months. "They would come in and smile at you, but they'd say very little," he recalled. "They seemed to keep to themselves."
The Immigrant Council of Ireland says laws need to be strengthened to protect women who have been trafficked.
Earlier this year, the Garda National Immigration Bureau established Operation Charity to combat marriages of convenience here, which are exploiting an EU directive on free movement that provides residency rights for non-EU citizens who marry EU nationals.
One of the country's senior marriage registrars has warned that up to 15pc of civil ceremonies in Ireland could be bogus.