Wednesday 26 October 2016

Sham marriage 'pervasive' in Ireland, report finds

Published 10/10/2016 | 12:00

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SHAM marriages are “pervasive” in Ireland with hundreds of Asian men paying to be wed to Eastern European women so they can secure EU residency, according to a new report published today.

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Many of the women involved have been trafficked to Ireland, the Immigrant Council of Ireland study found.

Repeated concerns have been voiced by the Latvian Embassy in Dublin.

It documented hundreds of cases where women travelled from Latvia to Ireland and soon after married men from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

Some 101 such marriages took place in 2014, 90 in 2013 and 87 in 2012.

At the height of the problem, in 2009, there were 357 such marriages involving Latvian women in Ireland, according to the report.

The report said the system for identifying if women were trafficked was “flawed”.

It said that unless women involved remain in Ireland and are supported by the authorities, no prosecutions will be obtained and recruiters and traffickers will remain at large and free to repeat crimes.

The Department of Justice welcomed the report, but said measures had already been taken in response to the problem.

“The Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014 was commenced in August 2015 and gives the civil registration service increased powers to form an opinion on whether an intended marriage would constitute a marriage of convenience, to investigate and to refuse to issue a marriage registration form,” a spokesman said.

“It also provides for increased sharing of information with the Department of Justice and Equality.”

Operation Vantage was commenced by gardaí in August 2015 to target sham marriages.

“Since its commencement there has been a dramatic reduction in sham marriages,” the spokesman said.

“To date, 63 persons have been arrested and are either prosecuted, before the courts or removed from the State. Gardaí estimate sham marriages have been reduced by 75pc.

“The operation has focused on the disruption of the organisers and facilitators behind this process and a number of ongoing criminal investigations with other European agencies are underway.”

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