Justice minister Charlie Flanagan is taking "very seriously" allegations by UN special rapporteurs about the exploitation of non-EU fishermen working in Ireland.
It comes as four special rapporteurs of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have written to the Irish Government through its Irish Permanent Mission in Geneva raising information they have received about the Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) and allegations of trafficking in persons and severe forms of labour exploitation of migrant fishermen.
The 2016 scheme was brought in after media reports exposed the exploitation of workers within the Irish fishing industry. It is supposed to allow migrants to live here and work on certain types of vessels with the same rights as Irish workers.
But bodies such as the International Transport Workers Federation has identified a number of potential cases of human trafficking and claimed the AWS has actually increased migrant fishers’ vulnerability to exploitation.
FOUR United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs have signed a letter damning the Irish government’s work permit scheme for non-European workers in the fishing industry. "When will the Irish government end this scheme?" #WeAreITF #ITFfisheries #ITFinspectors https://t.co/YVt3eYjNsF— International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) (@ITFglobalunion) February 18, 2019
The four signatories in the letter to the Government are UN special rapporteurs in areas including human rights of migrants, racism, slavery and trafficking in persons.
In a statement, the Department of Justice said the minister "takes any allegation of exploitation very seriously, particularly from UN special rapporteurs".
"A number of Departments and Agencies have responsibility in this area and will be examining and responding to all matters raised in the correspondence," said a statement.