United Nations human rights officials have strongly criticised the Government’s scheme governing protection and
labour rights for migrant fishermen from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
The criticism, contained in a letter to Justice Minister, Charlie Flanagan, was signed by the four special rapporteurs of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. It is more than justified.
For years, migrant workers from parts of Africa, South America, and Asia have been exploited here. Some of them have been construction staff coralled in make-shift ‘communities’, working on our motorways, but most have been part of Irish fishing crews.
The experience they share is horrific and the response by Irish authorities continues to be a shameful abuse of the human rights of some of the most marginalised and vulnerable people on the planet.
In their letter, the rapporteurs raise concerns about the Atypical Working Scheme, which was established in 2016,
in response to allegations of exploitation and trafficking of migrant fishing crew members.
A High Court hearing last November revealed that the scheme fails to protect fishermen from mainly African and Asian countries, who work an average of 116 hours a week, yet are only paid €2.83 an hour. That is nothing short of 21st century slavery.