Reports of alleged racism surge 51%

The number of reports of alleged racism received by the Immigrant Council of Ireland rose by 51% this year compared to 2013.

Failure to introduce immigration reforms has also left people and families living in limbo, according to the council’s end-of-year statement.

ICI’s frontline services responded to over 5,000 calls for help during 2014 — including people who found themselves caught in the immigration system, victims of racism, and women sex-trafficked into prostitution.

Headline figures for the year include:

-n5,126 immigration queries responded to through the organisation’s helplines;

-Legal representation and assistance for 60 migrants and their families;

-Nine victims of human trafficking supported;

-217 reports of racism received and responded to.

The council says the figures show the failure to introduce a clear, modern, and fair immigration service is impacting on individuals and families on a daily basis.

Chief executive Denise Charlton said: “It has been another busy year for our frontline services responding to the needs of migrants and Irish citizens as well as their families.

“Citizenship and family rights issues remain the basis for most queries to our helplines. It is particularly disturbing to see how a lack of clear procedures and guidelines, as well as an independent appeals mechanism, leaves many families vulnerable to being torn apart.”

The council represented and assisted 60 migrants on a range of issues during the year — including cases to reunite families, recognition of stateless persons, and protection of EU rights.

Sex-trafficking is the fastest growing crime of our time and through 2014 the council supported 19 victims. Its frontline services successfully secured improved protections and supports in nine cases, while the remainder are pending.

According to the council, political leadership is needed to ensure laws which will target demand for this crime are introduced in the months ahead.

“Our anti-racism service recorded a 51% increase during the 12 months with 217 incidents reported,” said the council, in a statement.

Key goals identified by the council for the year ahead include:

-Working towards more streamlined and fair immigration services, including access for people to an independent appeals mechanism similar to the Ombudsman;

-The introduction of sex-buyer laws to wreck the business model for pimps and traffickers;

-Examination of hate crime legislation to establish why it is not working.

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