No victims of human trafficking identified in review of cannabis growhouses, report finds

No victims of human trafficking identified in review of cannabis growhouses, report finds

A Garda review of 70 cannabis growhouse cases did not find that a single person arrested at the production facilities was a victim of human trafficking, a major US report has found.

The 2019 US State Department Trafficking in Persons report said that law enforcement officers in Ireland “failed to identify indicators of trafficking” and that they “punished” undocumented potential victims for immigration-related offences.

The US State Department said that a police officer with specialised trafficking training had accompanied garda teams conducting arrests related to cannabis cultivation crimes.

“Vietnamese and Chinese men who have been convicted for cannabis cultivation reported indicators of forced labour, such as document retention, restriction of movement and non-payment of wages,” said the report.

The authors of the report said that, according to the government, Gardaí and the Office of the DPP collaborated to make sure that victims were not prosecuted.

The report also said: “Joint inspections between labour inspectors and immigration enforcement authorities intimidated undocumented potential victims and posed a barrier to the identification of victims.” Director of The Migrants Rights Centre Edel McGinley said: “It is very hard to believe that no victims could be identified among those who have been sent to jail for cannabis cultivation.

“Questions need to be asked about the level of training and experience of the Gardaí who reviewed the cases.

"We’re talking about people incarcerated for crimes they were potentially forced to commit; this is a matter of the utmost severity.”

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