The Government announced the publication of the General Scheme of a Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Bill which includes a proposal to define forced labour in accordance with the ILO Convention 29. In effect forced labour will be defined and criminalised in the law. This will be brought in by April this year.
A definition of forced labour should ensure that victims of forced labour will receive greater protection and employers who commit this criminal act can now be prosecuted. When the proposed law is implemented, perpetrators of forced labour could face maximum sentences of up to life imprisonment.
Forced labour is a growing problem in Ireland. It is an extreme form of exploitation and involves deception, coercion, threats or actual physical harm, and debt bondage.
When proper regualtion is not in place, people subjected to forced labour and slave-like conditions are not fully recognised as victims of a crime, and the perpetrators of forced labour are not criminalised.
Irish trade unions has for a long time partnered with migrant rights organizations such as Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) to address the growing problem of labour trafficking and forced labour in Ireland, including by campaigning for adequate legal regulation. The amendment will bring Irish law in to line with Ireland’s commitments under the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No. 29 of 1930 on Forced or Compulsory Labour.
Trafficking for labour exploitation in Europe needs to be better addressed. While actors in the field have only discovered a tip of an iceberg, any solution to the problem will require understanding of new trends, developing new responses and partnerships.
For that reason trade unions, NGOs and faith based organizations launched a partnership to contribute to anti-trafficking response in Europe. Through the new project ITUC, together with Anti-Slavery International and Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe as international partners, will improve responses to labour trafficking. The three organzations, as well as national partners in Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Romania and Spain will in particular focus on exploring new trends in trafficking – such as gender dimension of labour trafficking, more and more severe exploitation of increasingly large groups of exploited migrant workers in mainstream economic activities and new labour trafficking recruitment methods including the use of Internet and ICTs.
The FINE TUNE project is supported by the ISEC/EU DG Home grant and it forms a part of the ITUC global action for protection of rights of trafficked workers and strenghtening labour standards for decent work.