Irish trafficked in Oz, book claims
The authors of a new book launched in Cork this week have found that Irish people have been victims of trafficking in Australia.
An estimated six people are being trafficked for the purposes of the sex industry in Cork City at any one time, according to David Lohan and Dr Jennifer deWan.
However, their research also found that Irish emigrants in Australia have been trafficked in the construction industry, undergoing forced labour, having their travel documents witheld, and being subjected to threats of serious harm.
According to David Lohan and Dr Jennifer DeWan, co-authors of 'Open Secrets: An Irish Perspective on Trafficking & Witchcraft' this finding highlights for the first time the "deliberate exploitation of Irish workers".
David Lohan undertook extensive research on the subject of human trafficking for the book and unearthed previously unobserved data from the 'Trafficking in Persons Report' which is issued annually by the US Department of State.
"The most startling aspect of this report is the fact that it went completely unreported on this side of the world even though it happened over three years ago."
The Trafficking in Person Report 2009 found that "some men and women from several Pacific Islands, India, the PRC, South Korea, the Philippines and Ireland are fraudulently recruited to work temporarily in Australia, but subsequently are subjected to conditions of forced labour, including confiscation of travel documents, confinement and threats of serious harm."
In 2008 Hanssen Pty Ltd. a construction company in Perth, Western Australia was fined a record AUD$174,000 for the deliberate exploitation of Filipino and Irish migrant workers. It was the largest ever fine imposed by the Federal Court on a company charged with violations of the Workplace Relations Act. At the time the Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans welcomed the fine and warned that the exploitation of workers would not be tolerated by his Government. The magistrate, Toni Lucev said that violations were "deliberate and exploited vulnerable workers."
The report did not name how many Irish workers were caught up in this but all of them were on 457 visas. They were not entitled to move between employers and they were presented with undated work agreements while being denied the required documents outlining their rights.
"The laws of economics are the same the world over and there's no reason why this should only apply to African people alone. The sad thing about researching this book is that there is endless information about human trafficking out there and sometimes people don't realize the extent of it."
Cois Tine, the Cork based immigrant support group launched 'Open Secrets' in the Clarion Hotel on Wednesday, attended by the Mayors of both Cork City and County. The book is a practical response to the human trafficking and witchcraft encountered during Cois Tine's pastoral work with immigrants over the past ten years.
"Slavery exists in Ireland today because the reality is that there is a demand. Irish people are willing to use, abuse and exploit their fellow human beings for economic benefit or their own gratification."
The Department of Foreign Affairs was contacted, but at the time of going to press a statement could not be made.