We recently made a joint submission to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Below you will find a summary of our concerns and recommendations.
Summary of Concerns and Recommendations
A: Human Trafficking
With regards to human trafficking in Ireland, our primary concern is the Irish State’s failure to effectively resource and coordinate anti-trafficking efforts. Trafficking for sexual exploitation remains the most prolific form of human trafficking identified in Ireland, especially affecting women and children, and trafficking for labour exploitation has been growing. Ireland has not ratified the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children signed in 2000. Ireland has failed to effectively identify victims of trafficking, while the National Referral Mechanism has fallen short in providing for the rights of identified victims. Despite the identification of 471 victims since 2013, no trafficker had been convicted until July 2021. Meanwhile victims of forced criminality are not protected from prosecution. These trends undermine Ireland’s obligations to the Palermo Protocol and slow progress on SDGs 5.2, 8.7 and 16.2.
A Third National Action Plan that includes a budget, specific allocation of responsibilities, and a time frame is required. The Department of Justice should reinstate a dedicated anti-trafficking unit. Formal victim identification and referral should be open to entities other than An Garda Síochána. Investigations and prosecutions should be appropriately resourced to achieve criminal convictions. Increased inspections and identification of suspected cases of trafficking in the labour market is required.
B: Domestic and Gender Based Violence Concerns and recommendations
With regards to domestic and gender based violence (GBV), our concerns focus on the failure to adequately resource and implement policies to support victims. The current number of refuge spaces do not meet demand. This need has been exacerbated by the pandemic, as has inadequacies in the efficiency with which the courts and police are able to respond to families in crisis. Gender disaggregated data relating to women’s equality, essential to effective policy, remains uncollected despite the fact the OHCHR’s 2016 Compilation Report highlighted this need. Ongoing training for all frontline personnel who engage with victims remains inadequate. Where victims are living in Direct Provision they may be further disadvantaged in their attempts to live in safety, particularly due to the lack of gender-specific accommodation. These concerns undermine Ireland’s obligations to the Istanbul Convention and slow progress on SDG 5.2.
A substantial increase in the provision of refuge spaces is needed. Ongoing training is required for all frontline personnel who engage with victims, as is greater agility in the court and police services to assist families in crisis. The collection of “gold standard” data relating to women’s equality is required to identify services and training needed to ensure women and children are at the centre of support strategies. Gender-specific accommodation must be immediately provided irrespective of the promise to phase out Direct Provision.
C: Migrants Refugees and Asylum Seekers
With regards to migrants, our concerns focus on the rights of asylum seekers and refugees in the International Protection System. Due to the failure to provide timely legal processing of asylum applications, fair treatment is denied: applicants can wait up to fifteen months before receiving a response. Irish immigration legislation (2015) provides inadequate recognition of the family reunification needs of migrants and refugees. Access to full participation in public life is prevented by the requirement for a valid nationality passport which many refugees cannot provide. Inadequate housing for asylum seekers and refugees with consequent implications for their health and education is also a concern, as are obstacles to access to education for children in asylum in line with their rights. In order to provide for the protection and welfare of refugees there remains a need for social inclusion services and support in order to facilitate integration of refugees and asylum seekers into Irish society. These concerns undermine Ireland’s obligations to the 1951 Convention and slow progress on SDGs 3, 4, 10.7, 11, and 16, as well as the overarching commitment to “leave no one behind”.
Legislation is required to provide for timely processing of those in the International Protection System and ensure adequate resource provision of the International Protection Office. The International Protection (Family Reunification Amendment) Bill 2017 should be enacted. Where extenuating circumstances exist, the requirement for the submission of a valid national passport should be waived in a consistent manner; where this is not possible the State should grant long term residency to asylum seekers in this situation. The provisions of the 2021 White Paper to End Direct Provision must be fully implemented in a timely manner. Finally, efforts to enhance, expand and fund the English language learning facilities, provided by community and voluntary groups, must be maintained.
On 14 November 2021 we hosted a joint webinar, providing an opportunity to understand the UPR as we move forward in the process. You can view the recording of the webinar here: