Ireland’s treatment of migrants is in breach of our international human rights obligations, the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) has argued in submissions to the Department of Foreign Affairs NGO Forum on Human Rights.

The NGO Forum, being held today, Human Rights Day 2010, will discuss Ireland’s examination by the UN Human Rights Council, providing an opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.

“Ireland has an established reputation as a defender of human rights – in other countries – but there are a number of areas where our treatment of migrants here in this country falls short of our international obligations,” ICI senior solicitor Hilkka Becker said.

“For example, our treatment of victims of sex trafficking, who are among the most vulnerable and exploited people in Ireland, falls well short of what is required of us under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“And while our treatment of victims of trafficking is far from international best practice, even this level of protection and assistance is denied to many exploited women because our overly bureaucratic processes delay and prevent the formal identification of women as victims of this crime.  The ICI is concerned this reflects a pervasive culture of disbelief in their stories and a pre-disposition to see them as illegal immigrants first and foremost.

“This culture was remarked upon by Opposition TDs during debate on the Immigration, Residence and Protection (IRP) Bill 2010 during Committee Stage, when they spoke of an inherent racism in some types immigration decisions in Ireland.

“This was a damning and very serious accusation, one which would cause us concern if it were levelled against other countries’ immigration systems, but which has passed largely unnoticed here.”

Ms Becker said that provisions in the IRP Bill allowing for the summary deportation of migrants without access to fair procedures were included in the draft legislation, despite criticism from the UN Human Rights Commission.

“It would appear that the IRP Bill could now lapse, if an election is held in early 2011, as expected,” Ms Becker said.

“If that happens, it will provide Ireland with the opportunity to revisit its whole approach to our immigration system, to ensure the rules are clear and fair.”

The ICI’s submissions to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ NGO forum can be found at