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Sex trafficking victims 'in danger of abuse in Direct Provision'

That’s according to agencies who have contacted the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald.

Image: Woman via Shutterstock

DIRECT PROVISION PLACES sex trafficking victims at risk of abuse, threats and violence, according to a submission being sent to the Minister for Justice.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland has warned that it believes placing detected victims of sex-trafficking in Direct Provision Centres “puts them in immediate danger of abuse, threats and a return to prostitution”.

It is one of four frontline agencies who have sent the submission to the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald TD.

The proposals are supported by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, NASC, Focus Ireland and Sonas Housing.

The state:

Ireland is a country of destination and transit for victims of trafficking. This has been acknowledged by the annual US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons report as early as 2006 and has been re-confirmed by a range of international monitoring reports since.

Criticism

In the submission, they highlight international criticism of Ireland for failing to protect those who have been sexually exploited.

They also outline alternative accommodation arrangements to address the concerns.

They argue that in the centres, victims are denied privacy, can be further abused and contacted and intimidated by pimps and traffickers to withdraw evidence to Gardaí.

The submission says that failings of the existing system include:

  • Victims have very little privacy to recover from often hugely traumatic experience such as multiple rapes; they have to share bedrooms with at least one and often two other strangers on rotation.
  • The centres are mixed gender and “can leave already vulnerable young women open to further grooming and exploitation”.
  • Due to the lengthy asylum process, victims of trafficking claiming international protection are accommodated for two to four years in RIA hostels, while the investigation of the crime against them is in progress.
  • There is evidence that the centres are targeted by men looking to buy sexual services

They also suggest that accounts given by victims indicate traffickers have actually used the asylum system for residency and accommodation “while simultaneously trafficking victims”.

A further concern is that the Direct Provision Centres are well known to the public, which the submission suggests means “the victims could be easily traced and intimidated by their traffickers”.

So what does the submission propose to address these issues?

  • The provision of secure short term emergency accommodation in Dublin, Cork and Limerick with highly trained personnel.
  • The use of apartments and houses with outreach support from Gardaí, the Child and Family Agency and other experts for stays of three months
  • The provision of three to five units for longer term care of extremely vulnerable victims

Denise Charlton Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:

Ireland’s failure to protect victims has been highlighted not only by those of us in the frontline but also by the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the US State Department and others internationally.

She said that the proposals and are in line with those in Northern Ireland, Britain, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Romania and elsewhere.

“We believe they are urgently needed and can be delivered in the short term to protect one of the most vulnerable group of people in the country,” she said.

Read: Child trafficking is on the increase in Ireland>

Read: Direct provision protests gain momentum as residents of another Cork centre say no more>

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