A CHINESE woman who has been held in custody since November 2008 is seeking bail in the High Court today on the basis that she is the victim of trafficking for forced labour. She was found by gardaí in the west of Ireland in November 2008 wandering barefoot, with her feet badly cut, according to her solicitor Ann Fitzgibbon. She was arrested on November 29th, 2008, and charged with drug offences relating to the possession of cannabis.
Ms Fitzgibbon, who took up the case in October 2009, said the woman was first trafficked from China into Britain and then from England to Ireland. She was kept in a house in a remote location and put under duress to tend to plants.
She managed to run away and when found by gardaí, she was suffering from hypothermia. Nobody else has been charged in connection with this investigation.
Ms Fitzgibbon said she asked the Migrant Rights Centre, which specialises in human trafficking for forced labour, to interview the woman. She received a report on October 29th, 2009, identifying her as a victim of this practice.
The report was furnished to the Garda National Immigration Bureau, which is charged with deciding if there are reasonable grounds for concluding that a person has been trafficked into Ireland.
By CAROL COULTER