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Charity says '200 cases of forced labour here'

A charity looking after migrant's rights has said it has identified 200 cases of forced labour over the past six or seven years in Ireland, with the longest incident lasting for seven years.

But the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland (MRCI) said it referred only 26 people to make complaints to gardai because the law was so weak they "knew they were not going to be identified as a victim of forced labour".

The MRCI uses international criteria and definitions to determine if they feel a person has been subjected to trafficking or forced labour, but it's director Siobhan O'Donoghue said Irish law works to differing standards in its definitions.

"The person that by international standards we identified as being in forced labour for seven years has opted to chose remedy through employment law and is now taking their former employer to court for non-payment of wages," she added.


The MRCI has now called for changes to the prosecution system in relation to forced labour so that victims can have a period of recovery time before being interviewed for information that would form part of a legal case. "Very often they are not given a chance to reflect or recover for long enough to engage in an investigation. Sometimes they can be interviewed far too quickly.

"Maybe the information they give just after leaving a situation of forced labour is going to be very different to what they are going to be saying if they had a chance to recover, and this is something that we feel strongly about," Ms O'Donoghue said.

The MRCI is bringing experts from all across Europe to discuss issues on trafficking and forced labour next week.