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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Caste-based discrimination and trafficking

TTRP are excited to present a jointly authored post with Meena Varma, Director of the Dalit Solidarity Network UK, which campaigns against the atrocities, humiliation and poverty that over 260 million Dalits suffer due to caste discrimination and seeks ‘A world without caste discrimination’.

Inequality is at the core of the Caste System. The assignment of basic rights among various castes is unequal and hierarchical as the system is hereditary and maintained through the rigid enforcement of social ostracism (a system of social, physical and economic penalties) in the case of any deviations. Caste-affected communities do not use one single term to describe themselves. The terms used vary from country to country across the world. The International Dalit Solidarity Network uses the term Dalit to refer to caste-affected members also known as ‘untouchables’ and/or Scheduled Castes, and members of other communities affected by similar forms of discrimination such as those inherited from their parents or based on their work. (more…)

When Travellers traffick – the debate on race, criminality and policing

The UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) found in its Baseline Assessment on the Nature and Scale of Human Trafficking in 2011, 38 victims, all male, of trafficking for labour exploitation by the “UK Traveller” community.  These victims worked, according to the UKHTC report, laying tarmac and paving stones.  UKHTC also indicated that there were 104 potential victims, i.e. those yet to be formally declared victims, of this kind of exploitation by Travellers, of which the majority were British.  Media reports claimed that individuals in these trafficking cases were often homeless, sometimes with alcohol or drug problems. They were promised well-paid employment; instead subjected to long working hours and substandard living conditions with no or little pay and the threat of violence.

Interestingly, the report notes that these victims were “almost exclusively adults” but does not further delve further into the exploitation of the children present, as implied by the report.  The UKHTC’s reference to the “UK Traveller community” is also rather vague.  Gypsies, Roma and Travellers of Irish Heritage are recognised as a distinct ethnic minority in UK law, under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.  According to the Irish Traveller Movement website:  “Their sense of common identity, their history, their nomadism or at least the principle of nomadism, the central role of the extended family and their own language are important features of their ethnicity.”  This group is also one of the most marginalised in British society, facing on-going challenges in their ability to access health services, education, employment and housing. (more…)

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: A framework for understanding and action

We are pleased to welcome Neill Wilkins to TTRP this week with an interesting post on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the work undertaken by his organisation on this issue. Neill is Migration Programme Manager for the Institute for Human Rights and Business and manages the Staff Wanted Initiative. He also helped oversee the development of the Dhaka Principles for Migration With Dignity – a set of human rights based principles that offer a clear framework for understanding the challenges businesses face regarding the recruitment and employment of migrant workers worldwide.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – developed by United Nations Special Representative Professor John Ruggie – is the most authoritative framework for business in ensuring human rights are respected within their operations around the world. The Guiding Principles, endorsed unanimously by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, are the result of a six-year multi-stakeholder process that included strong backing by companies and civil society. What is now needed is to apply the Principles and use them to understand and overcome human rights challenges faced by business in different sectors and operating in different contexts around the world.  (more…)

No, Man is an island. Without a strategy: the absence of policy in the CTA.

A few months ago, I met with an old childhood friend who is currently undertaking a PhD in the UK on human trafficking.  While reminiscing about growing up on the Isle of Man, we wondered if trafficking was an issue on the Island.  For those unfamiliar with the Isle of Man, it is in the middle of the Irish Sea, population 84,497; the main source of income is the provision of financial services and its status as a tax haven.  Of the resident population, only 4%, as of 2001, were born outside the British Isles.  Multi-cultural and ethnically diverse, the Island is not.  But, more recently, there has been an increase in work permits issued to non-European Economic Area (EAA) nationals: “During 2005/06 NI [national insurance – tied to holding a work permit] numbers were issued to people from Poland (271), India (155), South Africa (148) and the Philippines (76).”  Sadly, more recent figures don’t seem to be available.

Considering the extensive coastline of the island, the increasing numbers of wealthy residents, both Manx born and from the UK, and the relative economic boom which has seen increased non-EU immigrants take up roles in the service and healthcare industries, the conditions seem ripe for trafficking and exploitation to at least have featured on the radar of the Island’s authorities.  Further, the increased consumption of illegal drugs, pretty much all of which are imported, points to the presence of some level of organised criminal activity.  For example, a survey in 2008 found that half of the Island’s prison population were detained for drug offences.  The main source of these drugs was Merseyside in England, with 95% of all drugs coming from this source.  My friend and I recounted rumours that the Island had functioned as a transit point for IRA weapons during the height of the conflict in Northern Ireland, pointing to its strategic location and potential stopping point in the transportation of illegal goods.  While we are not suggesting that the Isle of Man is full of hardened criminal “syndicates” that are expanding their criminal empires from guns, to drugs, to people in reflection of the increased wealth of the island, we are highlighting the fact that the conditions noted above point to the potential for the movement of people onto the island for the purposes of exploitation. (more…)

Unaccounted: forced labour in Northern Ireland

Today we are delighted to welcome our first contributor from Northern Ireland, Khara Glackin.  Khara is currently the Immigration and Employment law solicitor at the South Tyrone Empowerment Programme (S.T.E.P); she also sits on the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Ethnic Minority Reference Group and is a member of the Northern Ireland Strategic Migration Partnership Board.  Khara is a qualified Barrister and subsequently cross-qualified as a solicitor.  Since 2008 she has lived and worked in Northern Ireland, initially working in Belfast private practice at leading Firms, prior to joining the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission as a solicitor in October 2009.  Khara has a keen interest in human trafficking issues and does an extensive amount of legal training and public speaking in the area to various statutory agencies and NGO’s.  

Cases of trafficking for forced labour are occurring in the United Kingdom and Ireland. As the majority of people trafficked for forced labour are not identified, and not afforded adequate assistance, their rights are ultimately unprotected.

According to the latest global estimate by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) published in June 2012, nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labour exploitation across the world, including 880,000 in the European Union member states. In the UK, there were 421 potential victims of trafficking for forced labour identified in 2011.  The ILO observed that even though forced labour is now widely recognised as a crime it is ‘rarely prosecuted because of the difficulties in articulating the various offences that constitute forced labour in national laws and regulations’. There are various forms of forced labour in existence. These include bonded labour, involuntary servitude, domestic servitude and child labour. Victims of trafficking for forced labour often experienced restricted freedom of movement, permanent physical and psychological harm, isolation from families and communities, and reduced opportunities for personal development. Victims are often very wary of law enforcement and psychologically dependent on their traffickers. Child victims are denied educational access, which reinforces a cycle of poverty and illiteracy. (more…)