Last Updated: Friday, 21 November 2014, 13:47 GMT

U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2004 - Ireland

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 28 February 2005
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2004 - Ireland , 28 February 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4226d9812.html [accessed 22 November 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
February 28, 2005

Ireland is a multiparty parliamentary democracy with an executive branch headed by a prime minister, a bicameral parliament, and a directly elected president. In November, the President was inaugurated for a second term of 7 years. Parliamentary elections were last held in May 2002. The Government is a coalition composed of Fianna Fail (the largest party in the country) and the Progressive Democrats. Fianna Fail leader Bertie Ahern is the Prime Minister. The judiciary is independent.

The national police have primary responsibility for internal security; the army acted in their support when necessary. The civilian authorities maintained effective control of the security forces. There were no reports that security forces committed human rights abuses.

The country, with a population of 4.1 million, has an open, market-based economy that is primarily industrial, although agriculture remains a key sector. The gross national product increased by approximately 4.8 percent, and the inflation rate was approximately 2.2 percent. Wages generally kept pace with inflation.

The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, and the law and judiciary provide effective means of addressing individual instances of abuse. Abuse and mistreatment of children were problems. There were incidents of violence against immigrants, racial minorities, and some discrimination against Travellers (an indigenous migrant community).

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

There were no reports of the arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life by the Government or its agents.

There were no developments in the case of the allegations of collusion between security forces and paramilitaries in the 1989 killing of two Royal Ulster Constabulary officers in Northern Ireland.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits such practices; however, there were reports of abuse by police officers.

The Police Complaints Board recorded 1,175 complaints, including abuse of authority, discourtesy, neglect, and discreditable conduct of police officers in 2003, compared with 1,405 such complaints recorded in 2002. Of these complaints, 2 percent were adjudicated as minor breaches of discipline and referred to the Commissioner, and 3 percent were deemed as breaches of discipline and referred to a tribunal.

In several communities, there were allegations of incidents of violence against racial minorities and immigrants (see Section 5).

Prison conditions generally met international standards; however, work and sanitation conditions remained poor in some prisons.

Living conditions in mental health establishments continued to need improvement, although the Government made progress in upgrading conditions. Human rights groups continued to condemn the Central Mental Health Hospital in Dundrum, the country's only secure hospital for prisoners with mental disabilities, because of understaffing and poor infrastructure. The Government created, but has not yet implemented, a program to add observation cells and remove padded cells at the hospital.

Male prisoners were held separately from female prisoners, juveniles were held separately from adults, and pretrial detainees were held separately from convicted prisoners.

The Government permitted prison visits by domestic and international human rights observers in most cases; however, appointments were necessary to tour facilities, and there were no visits during the year.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the Government generally observed these prohibitions, however, the use of special arrest and detention authority continued, primarily for those involved in paramilitary organizations.

The national police have primary responsibility for internal security but are generally an unarmed force; therefore, the army, under the effective civilian control of the Minister for Defense, acted in support of the police when necessary. The Government continued to monitor closely indigenous paramilitary groups active in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

A person may be arrested without a warrant when the police, with reasonable cause, suspect that an offense has been committed and that the person is guilty of that offense. When the suspect is brought to the police station, details of the offense must be set out in a "charge sheet." A copy of the details must be given to the suspect. The police will formally charge the suspect by reading each charge to the suspect and noting any replies. After being charged and cautioned, the suspect must be released on bail as soon as reasonably possible. At the District Court level, the suspect may either be released on bail or may be detained in custody ("on remand") by the judge. Bail is possible. If a suspect out on bail fails to appear before the court, the judge issues a "bench warrant" for the suspect's arrest.

The Offenses Against the State Act allows police to arrest and detain for questioning anyone suspected of committing a "scheduled offense" – crimes involving firearms, explosives, or membership in an unlawful organization. As a result, the police have broad arrest and detention powers in any case involving firearms. In cases covered by this Act, the initial period of detention without charge is 24 hours at the direction of a police superintendent, and detention may be extended another 24 hours by a judge.

Detainees and prisoners are allowed unrestricted access to attorneys. If the detainee does not have an attorney, the court will appoint one; if the detainee cannot afford an attorney, the Government will provide one through the Free Legal Aid program.

The law allows a court to refuse bail to a person charged with a serious offense (one that carries a penalty of 5 years' imprisonment or more) when it is considered reasonably necessary to prevent the commission of another serious offense.

The Offenses Against the State Act also provides for the indefinite detention, or internment, without trial of any person who is engaged in activities that are "prejudicial to the preservation of public peace and order or to the security of the State"; however, this power has not been invoked since the late 1950s.

The Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act permits detention without charge for up to 7 days in cases involving drug trafficking; however, to hold a suspected drug trafficker for more than 48 hours the police must seek a judge's approval.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respected this provision in practice.

The judicial system consists of district courts, circuit courts, the High Court, the Court of Criminal Appeal, and the Supreme Court. The President appoints judges recommended by the Judicial Appointment Board, who choose from a list presented by the Government.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), an independent government official, prosecutes criminal cases. Jury trials usually are used in criminal cases, and the accused may choose an attorney. Indigent defendants have the right to an attorney at public expense. Defendants have the right to present evidence, question witnesses, a presumption of innocence, and the right to appeal.

The Constitution explicitly allows "special courts" to be created when "ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice and the preservation of public peace and order." A non-jury "Special Criminal Court" (SCC) tries "scheduled offenses", and any case the DPP certifies that an ordinary court cannot adequately handle. The SCC always sits as a three-judge panel, and its verdicts are by majority vote. Rules of evidence are generally the same as in regular courts; however, the sworn statement of a police chief superintendent identifying the accused as a member of an illegal organization is accepted as prima facie evidence. SCC sessions generally are public, but judges may exclude certain persons other than journalists. Appeals of SCC decisions are allowed in certain circumstances.

Michael McKevitt's appeal was heard and denied in 2003. The families of the victims of the Omagh bombing filed a civil suit against him during the year.

There were no reports of political prisoners.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The Constitution and the law prohibit such actions, and the Government generally respected these prohibitions in practice.

2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and the Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech, and the Government generally respected this right in practice and did not restrict academic freedom.

The Constitution provides for freedom of the press; however, this right is subject to the constitutional qualification that it not "undermine public order or morality or the authority of the state." The Constitution prohibits the publication or utterance of "blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter."

The independent press was active and expressed a wide variety of views without government restriction.

Broadcasting remained mostly state controlled, but private sector broadcasting continued to grow. There were 49 independent radio stations and an independent television station. Access to cable and satellite television lessened considerably the relative influence of state-controlled broadcasting. The Broadcasting Complaints Commission oversees standards and investigates complaints about programming.

The Broadcasting Act empowers the Government to prohibit the state-owned radio and television network from broadcasting any matter "likely to promote or incite to crime or which would tend to undermine the authority of the State." The Act was not employed during the year.

While the press operated freely, some observers believed that the Defamation Act (which puts the onus on newspapers and periodicals accused of libel to prove that defamatory words are true) and the Official Secrets Act (which gives the Government wide scope to prosecute unauthorized disclosures of sensitive government information) might result in some self-censorship.

Books and periodicals were subject to censorship by the Censorship of Publication Board; however, unlike in the previous year, the Board did not censor any books or magazines.

The Office of the Film Censor must classify films and videos before they can be shown or sold and cut or ban any film that is "indecent, obscene, or blasphemous," or which tends to "inculcate principles contrary to public morality or subversive of public morality." During the year, the Film Censor did not ban any films, but did ban one video, primarily because of its pornographic or violent content.

The Government did not restrict access to the Internet.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides citizens with the right to "assemble peaceably and without arms"; however, it also allows the State to "prevent or control meetings" that are calculated to breach the peace or to be a danger or nuisance to the general public.

Police conduct during demonstrations generally was restrained. The trial of seven police officers accused of using their batons excessively during a 2002 May Day demonstration in Dublin resumed in October.

c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. The Constitution prohibits promotion of one religion over another and discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, and the Government did not restrict the teaching or practice of any faith. Approximately 88 percent of the population is Roman Catholic; however, there is no official state religion.

The Government permits but does not require religious instruction in public schools. Most primary and secondary schools are denominational – the majority Catholic – and the Catholic Church partially controls their boards of management. As mandated by the Constitution, the Government provided equal funding to schools of different religious denominations (such as an Islamic school in Dublin). Although religious instruction is an integral part of the curriculum, parents may exempt their children from such instruction.

During the year, there were three anti Semitic incidents in the country. One incident involved a swastika being painted on the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin. The second and third incidents involved vandalism at a Jewish cemetery and synagogue.

For a more detailed discussion, see the 2004 International Religious Freedom Report.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government generally respected them in practice.

The Constitution prohibits forced exile, and the Government did not employ it.

The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol, and the Government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. In practice, the Government provided protection against refoulement, the return of persons to a country where they feared persecution. The Government granted refugee status or asylum. The Government cooperated with the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees. The Government also provides temporary protection to individuals who may not qualify as refugees under the 1951 Convention/1967 Protocol.

The number of asylum seekers entering the country decreased. There were 4,766 total (4,265 new applications, 501 reapplications) applications for asylum during the year compared with 7,900 in 2003; the Government granted asylum to 877 (430 at first instance and 686 at the appeal stage) individuals, compared with 1,176 (345 at first instance and 831 at appeal stage) in 2003. At year's end, there were 549 deportations, and 608 asylum seekers had voluntarily returned to their country of origin.

3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

The Constitution provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections held on the basis of universal suffrage. The Parliament is bicameral; members of the Dail (House of Representatives) – the chamber that carries out the main legislative functions – are elected popularly, while most members of the Seanad (Senate) are elected by vocational and university groups, with the others appointed by the Prime Minister. Several political parties have seats in both bodies. The President (head of state) is elected popularly for a 7-year term and is limited to two terms. An appointed council of state advises the President. Parliamentary elections were held in May 2002, and the President was inaugurated for a second 7-year term in November.

In December, allegations of corruption were made involving a Ministry of Environment, Heritage and Local Government appointment of a public relations consultant. The Minister of Transport (formerly Minister of Environment) allegedly hired a close political associate at an exorbitant salary. The Government appointed a former civil servant to investigate the allegations, and the investigation was ongoing at year's end.

The President was a woman, and 22 of the 166 deputies in the Dail and 10 of the 60 senators were female. Three of the 15 government ministers were female, as was 1 of the 17 junior ministers. Three women sat on the 26-member High Court, and 2 of the 8 Supreme Court judges were female.

There were no members of minorities in the Dail, the Seanad, the Government, or the Cabinet. In June, there were two minority council members elected at the county level.

4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were cooperative and responsive to their views.

The Ombudsman's role is to investigate complaints about administrative actions, delays, or inaction adversely affecting persons or bodies in their dealings with government departments, local authorities, health boards, or the postal service.

5. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

The Employment Equality Act prohibits discrimination in relation to employment on the basis of eight distinct discriminatory grounds: Gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, age, disability, race, and membership in the Traveller community; however, discrimination against racial minorities, including immigrants and Travellers, was a problem. The Equal Status Act outlaws discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities, and services on these grounds.

Women

Domestic violence and emotional abuse were problems, although there were some improvements during the year. The police recorded 8,452 incidents of domestic violence in 2003 compared with 10,248 in 2002. There were 24 domestic violence support centers throughout the country, funded in part by the Government. Additionally, there were 11 women's rights groups.

The law criminalizes rape within marriage and provides for free legal advice to victims of serious sexual assault. In rape cases, the Government brings the case against the accused, with the victim acting as a witness. The Sex Offenders Act provides for separate legal representation for victims in rape and other serious sexual assault cases where application is made to adduce evidence or to cross-examine the victim about his or her past sexual experience.

The 18 rape crisis centers, funded in part by the Government, provided support by immediate telephone contact and one-on-one counseling. A Voluntary Housing Capital Assistance Scheme and a Voluntary Housing Subsidy Scheme provided long- and short-term housing options for victims of sexual violence. All police received training on the investigation of cases of domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault. Police also attended training lectures on causes and effects of domestic violence and techniques for interviewing victims of domestic violence.

In 2003, the Dublin Rape Crisis Center reported receiving 11,863 counseling calls in all categories (child sexual abuse, adult rape, adult sexual assault, sexual harassment), which continued an upward trend in frequency of calls. The center reported that 143 of the 477 rape victims recorded in 2003, reported their attacks to the police, resulting in 27 defendants tried and 18 convicted.

There was anecdotal evidence that women were trafficked for sexual exploitation (see Section 5, Trafficking).

The law prohibits discrimination against women in the workplace and provides for protection and redress against discrimination based on gender and marital status; however, inequalities persisted regarding pay and promotions in both the public and the private sectors. The Equality Tribunal and the Equality Authority are the main statutory bodies that enforce and administer the discrimination laws. Women constituted 47.5 percent of the labor force but were underrepresented in senior management positions. During the year, the earnings of women averaged 80 percent that of men, and women worked 10 hours a week less. As a way to combat this gender gap, the Government increased the minimum wage, created more childcare facilities, funded childcare for those in employment training, and worked through the National Framework Committee on the Development of the Family Friendly Polices to increase flexibility in the workforce.

Children

The Government was strongly committed to children's rights and welfare; it amply funded systems of public education and health care. Under the law, education is free and compulsory for children from age 6 to 15. Almost all children attended school. According to the Department of Education, approximately 99 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 16 attended school. Most children completed secondary education.

In 2002, there were 375 cases of child abuse reported to the Health Authority, but only 122 cases were confirmed. The Health Authority received approximately $1.35 million (1 million euros) in 2002 to improve the identification, reporting, assessment, treatment, and management of child abuse. The sexual abuse of children was a problem and continued to receive significant media attention. In 2003, the Dublin Rape Crisis Center reported that 41 percent of calls to its crisis line involved child sexual abuse. The law requires government health boards to identify and help children who are not receiving adequate care, and it gives the police increased powers to remove children from the family if there is an immediate and serious risk to their health or welfare.

In September 2003, the Government renewed the Laffoy Commission's mandate to investigate sexual and physical abuse in government institutions. The Commission's Third Interim Report, released in December 2003, discussed cases heard by the Confidential Committee and the Investigation Committee. The Confidential Committee consists of a group of commissioners that listen to a person's abuse experiences in institutions as defined by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Act 2000. The Confidential Committee began hearings in September 2000, and, by May, had heard 866 witnesses. The Committee hopes to hear the remaining 189 cases by the end of the year. The Investigation Committee investigates complaints and allegations made to it, and may compel persons accused to appear before it and produce particular documents. However, the Investigation Committee heard less than 3 percent of its estimated 1,800 cases according to the Interim Report. Because of the governmental review, the committee focused on group complaints rather than individual hearings, and no further evidential hearings were conducted.

The law prohibits the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children; however, there were reports that such practices occurred (see Section 5, Trafficking).

In December 2003, an Ombudsman for Children was established to investigate complaints from children or persons acting on their behalf against various governmental and nongovernmental bodies. When the Ombudsman finds in favor of the child, the offending body must state how it will rectify the problem and ensure that it does not recur. The Ombudsman also has a role in promoting general child welfare.

Trafficking in Persons

The law prohibits trafficking in persons, and there were no confirmed reports that persons were trafficked to, from, or within the country; however, NGOs and others offered anecdotal evidence of trafficking.

The Child Trafficking and Pornography Act criminalizes trafficking in children for the purpose of sexual exploitation, with penalties of up to life imprisonment. The Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act criminalizes trafficking in illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. No specific legislation addresses trafficking in women for sexual activities; however, laws prohibit the exploitation of prostitutes by means of coercion or fraud. Traffickers who facilitate for gain the entry of illegal immigrants or asylum seekers are liable for fines or 1 to 10 years' imprisonment. The Police National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) and the Department of Justice are the governmental organizations responsible for combating trafficking.

In 2003, Dublin police raided several lap-dance clubs that were employing illegal female workers, and the Limerick police raided a brothel that was bringing prostitutes into the city from Eastern Europe, although the women stated that they had entered the country voluntarily. A man and a woman were convicted for running the brothel: Both were sentenced to 4 months' imprisonment, but the woman's sentence was suspended. The press reported that three English language schools were being used as fronts to smuggle Eastern European women into the country to have them work as lap dancers and prostitutes. In December, the Justice Minister ordered tighter restrictions on access to foreign language schools. To cut down on scams and foreign students in forced labor situations, the students are now required to register with the Police National Immigration Bureau and will not be allowed to join the labor market unless they are attending a full-time course of at least 1 year in length.

The country might be a destination country on a limited scale for trafficking in women and children. The country may also be a transit point for persons trafficked to or from Northern Ireland. There is anecdotal information that some women were trafficked within the country. Socially disadvantaged women and children were most likely to be trafficking victims.

NGOs reported that women were trafficked to the country primarily for prostitution or exploitation in the sex industry, and that men may be trafficked into the country for work in the construction industry. However, NGOs were only able to provide anecdotal information; they did not have statistics or other hard evidence. NGOs reported that traffickers now targeted younger women who were more vulnerable, having little language skill, and no legal status or recourse. Another tactic that changed was that prostitution moved away from the streets and brothels to apartments, where activities were easier to hide. NGOs reported that traffickers used information technology more effectively as well.

There were no reliable statistics on the number of possible victims of trafficking in the country, due mainly to lack of data collection. During the year, GNIB and local detective units in the Dublin metropolitan region continued to investigate suspected instances of trafficking but did not find sufficient evidence to open a formal investigation or to bring charges. Since 2000, there have been nine investigations into alleged trafficking/smuggling, resulting in the conviction of one Ukrainian for smuggling two Ukrainian males through the Dublin airport. In December, a Portuguese man was jailed for 9 months and fined $1,350 (1,000 euros) for bringing two Brazilian women into the country. An NGO investigating trafficking estimated that as many as 40 children a year were being trafficked into the country for either economic or sexual exploitation. An anti-prostitution and trafficking NGO reported more than 600 prostitutes, mostly drug users and younger women, in its database.

The Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs and the GNIB were involved in anti-trafficking efforts, and there was coordination between government officials, NGOs, and other elements of civil society on trafficking issues. A coalition of NGOs that deal in part with trafficking issues met periodically during the year. In December, the Department of Foreign Affairs held an international seminar on human rights, keynoting the issues of women and trafficking.

Persons with Disabilities

There was generally no discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or in the provision of other state services. The law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities, and the Government generally enforced these provisions in practice.

The law established minimum criteria to ensure access for persons with disabilities to all public and private buildings constructed or significantly altered after 1992; however, enforcement was occasionally uneven and fines minimal.

A National Disability Authority has responsibility for setting disability standards, monitoring the implementation of these standards, and researching and formulating disability policy. The National Standards for Disability Services, which specifies required national standards for all government-funded bodies, was released in January.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Societal discrimination and racial violence against immigrants and ethnic minorities, such as Asians and Africans continued to be a growing problem. Racially motivated incidents involved physical violence, intimidation, and verbal slurs, and the majority of incidents of racist violence took place in public places.

There were 145 police around the country who worked with the different ethnic communities. The Police Racial and Intercultural Office began tracking racially motivated incidents in 2002. There were 81 racially motivated incidents in 2003. The Police Racial and Intercultural Office also gave instruction and booklets to police to teach them how to interact with those of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Approximately 25,000 indigenous nomadic persons regard themselves as a distinct ethnic group called "Travellers," with its own history, culture, and language. Travellers faced societal discrimination and regularly were denied access to premises, goods, facilities, and services; many restaurants and pubs, for example, would not serve them. In February, police evicted a Traveller family with 13 children from their mobile home. The local county council that authorized this eviction had entitled another family to their electrical hookup and reported that this particular family was staying illegally.

Despite national school rules that provide that no child may be refused admission on account of social position, Travellers frequently experienced difficulties enrolling their children in school. Traveller students are not separated in classrooms, but it is not uncommon for them to be taken from the classroom to receive additional schooling. Of the estimated 5,000 Traveller families, approximately 1,200 lived on roadsides or on temporary sites without electricity or sanitary facilities. Many Travellers depended on social welfare for survival and were unable to participate in the mainstream economy because of discrimination and a lack of education.

The law prohibits job discrimination against Travellers; however, a monitoring committee established to oversee reforms to address problems encountered by Travellers was considered ineffectual by the Travelling community.

The Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act requires local elected officials to draw up and implement Traveller accommodation plans on a 5-year basis and requires Traveller input in the process; however, many Traveller NGOs were dissatisfied with the progress of this legislation and believed that anti-trespassing legislation enacted in 2002 further undermined the Housing Act. The Traveller movement withdrew from the Social Partnership Agreement with the Government because of its continued dissatisfaction. To develop better relations between Travellers and the settled community, the Government granted approximately $130 million (approximately 96 million euros) to Traveller community organizations during the year.

6. Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The law provides workers with the right to join–-or refrain from joining – a union, and workers exercised this right in practice. Approximately 33 percent of workers in the private sector were union members, compared with 95 percent in the public sector. Police and military personnel may form associations, but technically not unions, to represent themselves in matters of pay, working conditions, and general welfare.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law allows unions to conduct their activities without interference, and the Government protected this right in practice. Labor unions have the right to engage in collective bargaining, and unions exercised this right in practice. The law provides for the right to strike, and this right was exercised in both the public and private sectors; however, police and military personnel are prohibited from striking. There are no special laws or exemptions from regular labor laws in the export processing zone at Shannon Airport.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children; however, there were anecdotal reports that such practices occurred (see Section 5).

d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

Under the law, employers may not employ children under the age of 16 in a regular, full-time job. Employers may hire 14- or 15-year-olds for light work on school holidays, as part of an approved work experience or educational program, or on a part time basis during the school year (for children over the age of 15 only). The law sets rest intervals and maximum working hours, prohibits the employment of 18-year-olds for late night work, and requires employers to keep specified records for workers who are under 18 years of age. Enforcement was reportedly lax, but violations were rare.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The national minimum wage was $9.45 (7 euros) per hour, which did not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family; however, low-income families are entitled to benefits such as subsidized housing, medical coverage, and children's allowances.

The standard workweek is 39 hours. Working hours in the industrial sector are limited to 9 hours per day and 48 hours per week. Overtime work is limited to 2 hours per day, 12 hours per week, and 240 hours per year.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment is responsible for enforcing the laws dealing with occupational safety, which provide adequate and comprehensive coverage; no significant complaints arose from either labor or management regarding enforcement of these laws. Regulations provide workers with the right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations that present a "serious, imminent and unavoidable risk" without jeopardy to their continued employment.

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