HALF OF ALL people trafficked into Ireland last year were children, according to new Government figures.
45 people were identified as victims of human trafficking in 2012. The majority – 31 – were female, and 23 were children.
In the vast majority of the detected cases – 39 – the victims were subjected to sexual exploitation, while six others were subjected to forced labour.
An additional three people were initially identified by authorities, but after investigation were established to be cases of illegal immigration.
More than 200 people were identified as victims of human trafficking in the previous three years. The corresponding figure for 2011 was 57.
Reacting to the release of the preliminary figures for last year, the Immigrant Council of Ireland called on the Government to act on “growing evidence that sex-trafficking is going undetected”.
“As a frontline organisation, the Immigrant Council of Ireland fears that many more have not been found – and may never be found,” CEO of the organisation Denise Charlton said.
“It is clear a multi-million euro trade run by pimps, traffickers and organised crime is targeting our communities and our laws are not robust enough to respond.”
The group is involved in a long-running campaign to bring in new laws to target buyers of sex.