Tuesday 12 November 2019

Calls for apology for Brazilian au pair 'unfairly' detained in Irish prison on visit to Ireland

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Tom Burke
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Tom Burke

Cillian Sherlock

A petition calling on the Minister of Justice to apologise to Brazilian woman on holiday in Ireland who was ‘unfairly’ sent to Dochas prison by immigration officers has reached over 2,700 signatures.

Paloma Aparezida Silva-Carvalho (24) from São Paulo was travelling to visit friends in Ireland whom she had met in her work as an au pair.

She suffered a distressing 48-hour ordeal, including strip searches, while being detained by immigration officers who believed she was entering the country to work illegally.

Jane Xavier from Au Pair Rights Association Ireland has called for an apology from the Minister of Justice as well as a third-party review into how immigration cases are conducted.

Ms Xavier told RTÉ Radio One that this is not the first time this has happened and is not an isolated incident. She said this has also happened to people from other South American countries.

“It’s been happening for ages and something needs to be done,” she said.

She said Paloma’s case has become a national story in Brazil.

“I think Paloma is not a criminal. Anyone who is refused entry into a given country should not be sent to prison. She had return tickets, accommodation, money and the right to stay up to 90 days,” she said.

Ms Xavier said the response to the petition has been great and has brought media attention to the issue.

She said people don’t want to talk about their experiences because they are afraid of the potential consequences.

“This case was really appalling. Most au pairs would be afraid of going on holidays because they are afraid of going through immigration on their way back. They will get their mobiles confiscated, they go through lots of questions. It can be quite intimidating,” she said.

“Every time someone comes over to visit me I would be very anxious and have butterflies in my stomach when my phone rings because I’m just not sure. Irish immigration can be quite unpredictable even if you have everything right,” Ms Xavier added.

Independent.ie has contacted the Department of Justice for comment.

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