Over 60 confirmed cases of human slavery in Ireland in 2018 – but no criminal convictions
Modern slaves in Ireland are forced to work in the sex and fishing industries, as well as in car washes and nail bars
Callous criminals are getting away with trafficking human beings into Ireland, an anti-slavery expert warned on Friday.Kevin Hyland said there were 64 confirmed cases of human slavery last year – and yet there has never been a criminal conviction.
Modern slaves in Ireland are forced to work in the sex and fishing industries, as well as in car washes and nail bars.
But the trafficking of human beings “will go on for ever” if criminals are not stopped.
Mr Hyland was the UK’s anti-slavery commissioner and received
an OBE for his work battling the scourge.
His comments come as 16 people were found alive on Thursday in the back of truck on a ferry which was en route to Rosslare.
Investigations are also continuing into the deaths of the 39 Vietnamese nationals whose frozen bodies were found in the back of a lorry in Essex last month.
The 64 confirmed cases of human slavery in Ireland in 2018 included 27 people forced into sex work, 35 cases of forced labour, two people who were forced into criminality and four cases involving children. And, despite the fact that the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 (amended in 2013) has been in place for 11 years, there has yet to be a prosecution.
This has not gone unnoticed abroad, with a report from the US State Department saying that Ireland has “failed” in relation to prosecutions.
Mr Hyland, who headed up Scotland Yard’s anti-trafficking unit for years before taking on the role of UK anti-slavery commissioner, said: “That report highlights the fact that Ireland has never had a conviction for trafficking.
“You would always hear the argument it is very complex and I realise that – I was a police officer investigating these cases – and they are complex. But they’re not impossible.”
Criminals are acting with impunity, exploiting vulnerable people from around the world, said Mr Hyland, who is now the Irish representative to the Council of Europe’s Independent Group of Experts for Trafficking. He added: “You’ve got criminals who are operating with impunity – not just in Ireland, but across the world.
“And 99.98% of the time, they get away with it – and that’s replicated by Ireland’s figures because there are no convictions.”
And the Australia-based Global Slavery Index estimates the number of modern slaves working in Ireland could be up to 8,000.
Whatever the actual figures might be, Mr Hyland said the 64 cases are a “very big underestimate of the numbers”.
He added up to 25% of those forced into labour in Ireland are working in the fishing industry.
Mr Hyland said: “I’ve met some of these fishermen and it’s terrible, their treatment is shocking. And again, there’s never been a prosecution, there’s never been any action.”
People are also forced to work as sex slaves, and in car washes and nail bars across Ireland – and do so despite regulations in place.
Mr Hyland said: “There’s so many regulations now that should stop exploitation – working time directives, health and safety regulations – and yet you can go anywhere around Ireland and you can find a car wash, and just look at it. Just look at it and think, where is the health and safety here?
“And there are brothels – advertising sexual services is illegal in Ireland, buying sex is illegal, but brothels seem to still work and operate. And the car washes, which have no governance, operate. With nail bars, people tell me it’s the same issue, in certain parts of Ireland where there are lots of nail bars.
“And they’re not in any way governed or managed. You go and open up a licensed premise, anywhere in Ireland, without a licence, such as a pub or an off-licence, it will be closed down within hours, rightly.
“But these other things just operate with impunity.” Modern slavery can take on a number of forms. This includes trafficking, which involves the movement of people for the purpose of exploitation, but also forced labour, debt bondage and child slavery.
Mr Hyland said people who are trafficked become displaced from their homelands for a number of reasons.
He added: “People get displaced because of conflicts, but also because of climate change and because of gender inequality. It’s also about corrupt regimes and it’s also about poverty.
“And unless we start to really hit those traffickers, and start to deal with the issue, this is going to go on for ever.”
Mr Hyland, whose grandmother hails from Galway, called on Ireland to lead the international community. He said: “This is not about saving money. This is about getting some sensible ideas together, getting resources together to make it happen.”
Meanwhile, Fianna Fail’s justice spokesman called for traffickers operating in Ireland to be “brought to justice”. Jim O’Callaghan told the Irish Mirror: “Recent events have shown that Ireland is unfortunately playing a significant part in human trafficking.
“These traffickers need to be thoroughly policed and brought to justice so that vulnerable people are protected.”
Gardai have committed “significant resources” to the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking, the Department of Justice said. Meanwhile, it is understood gardai are pursuing number of investigations are being. The Justice Department said of the 64 recorded incidents of slavery last year, 13 occurred outside the jurisdiction, while 51 occurred within it.
A spokesman said: “These are complex cases and it can be challenging to secure convictions for a range of reasons including difficulties in securing sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of coercion.
“For example, a prosecution against three suspected traffickers in 2018 was withdrawn, due to the victims choosing to return to their home countries and declining to co-operate with requests for testimony.”
Fred: Brothels are booming all over Ireland. The Gangs involved are well organised; they use every Trick in the Criminal Ledger, from nail saloons and massage parlours acting as fronts. But sadly behind this multi million industry in Ireland, young women are brought into the country on false promises of a decent job, and forced into Prostitution. Not forgetting young men also (often employed in the fishing industry). Some years ago, 3 women were found in apartments in Dublin 4 TIED AND CHAINED to beds. We never heard anything about that awful crime since the revelations on a TV documentary; somebody or whoever are getting a backhander; money talks, and the Clients come from all walks of society. In rural Ireland, women are brought to clients. Farmers are supplied with their choice of women by transit vans with all the mod cons inside; cash passed over, and away again. We know we have a Drug War here, but we cannot forget these women, who may be raped at least 6 times plus a day. Gardai are well informed, but nothing is done. Why? Fred
Check this out: it is docu-drama: Research is done so there has to be Truth.