People are being trafficked to Ireland to work as slaves on farms - Watchdog
A growing number of people are trafficked to Ireland to work as slaves in farms, restaurants and car washes, said a European watchdog, criticising the housing of victims in asylum seeker centers that it said left them open to further exploitation.
The Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) said victims were housed in large reception centers mixing men and women instead of specialized units where they could be better catered for.
“Most countries would have a dedicated shelter with five, six places in all, (located) at a secret address and run by a specialized NGO. In Ireland this does not exist,” said GRETA’s executive secretary, Petya Nestorova.
Staff often didn’t know which guests were trafficking victims and were generally not sensitized to their needs, the organization said in a report on Wednesday.
“The mixing of men and women can expose vulnerable women to sexual harassment, grooming and exploitation,” it added.
The situation had a knock-on effect on prosecutions as victims felt unprotected and therefore less inclined to cooperate with authorities, Nestorova said, noting that the number of convictions was very low.
“Victims could be much more reliable if they were taken care of in a better way,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
Ireland’s Department of Justice and Equality defended its accommodation system, saying it allowed all potential victims to be sheltered without delay, but added it will be reviewed.