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NWCI adds its voice in protest against Operation Hyphen

Published: Monday, August 05, 2002

The National Women's Council of Ireland, which represents over 150 diverse women's groups and organizations in Ireland, wishes to add its voice in protest against Operation Hyphen which was carried out recently by the National Immigration Bureau in conjunction with the Gardaí.

'We seriously question the motivation behind Operation Hyphen which has made swoops on over 190 alleged illegal immigrants throughout the country. We have heard reports of actions by the State which raise concerns about human rights. For example, we are aware of cases in which a pregnant and ill woman and her partner were put into custody and separated from their teenage son with little consideration for the woman' s medical condition. We are also aware of people with valid residency status who were subjected to interrogation under Operation Hyphen' declared Joanna Mc Minn, NWCI Director.

'In the absence of a fair, transparent and independently monitored asylum process, and of a comprehensive rights-based immigration policy, we do not feel that it is fair to carry out arrests and deportations in such a manner' stated Ms Mc Minn.

'The NWCI, alongside other organizations in the community and voluntary sector, calls for a rights-based immigration policy which should be agreed between the Government, social partners and representatives of immigrant organizations.

This policy should include:

  • a change from the present system of work permits applied for by the employer to a system of work visas, held by the immigrant
  • a significant humanitarian component to the system
  • a transparent and non-discriminatory system which would include positive measures to counter racism and sexism.

As the Government has not achieved its target of processing all claims for refugee status within six months, the NWCI is calling for the Government to grant the right to work to all asylum seekers who have not received a final decision on their application for refugee status within six months' she added.

'The NWCI questions the Government's stated commitment to addressing racism in a climate in which the Minister for Justice, Mr Michael Mc Dowell, has:

  • implemented Operation Hyphen
  • stated his intention to remove the rights of Irish born children of non-national parents to live in Ireland under the care of their parents
  • introduced the Criminal Trespass law which allows the widespread eviction and criminalisation of entire communities of Travellers who are camped on public land awaiting Traveller-specificaccommodation.

The NWCI is deeply disturbed at the lack of meaningful consultation by the Government on these issues with organizations which represent equality and rights issues, in particular with refugee and immigrant support groups' concluded Ms McMinn.