AN EXPERT REVIEW group has been critical of how Ireland is tackling human trafficking.
The review into the state’s compliance with the anti-trafficking convention was conducted by an expert committee from the Council of Europe, who stated that the number of prosecutions and convictions for human trafficking is still “very low” and the length of the criminal proceedings is “also a manner of concern”.
They urged the Irish authorities to take additional measures to ensure that human trafficking offences are investigated and prosecuted effectively, which they say would lead to “proportionate and dissuasive sanctions”.
They also said that more could be done to ensure that victims of human trafficking are not subject to intimidation, either before or after a court case.
The group said that new immigration legislation had been delayed since 2008, but said that it was promised this year that new legislation would be introduced. They wanted to stress to government that new legislation relating to immigration, asylum and human trafficking should be implemented as soon as possible.
Having looked at Ireland’s human trafficking situation the said that Ireland is primarily a country of destination for victims of trafficking, rather than a country of transit.
Between 2009-2011, more than 200 possible victims of human trafficking were identified in Ireland.
The figures, supplied to the expert group by the gardaí, give the following breakdown of human trafficking victims:
- 2009 – 66 people
- 2010 – 78 people
- 2011 – 57 people
The report states that 66 per cent victims were adult women, while 24 per cent were children and 10 per cent were men. The main type of exploitation reported during the period 2009-2011, both for adults and children, was sexual exploitation.
The review states that preliminary data for 2012, identified 48 human trafficking victims. 31 were female and 23 were children.
As regards the forms of exploitation, 39 of the alleged victims were subjected to sexual exploitation and six to labour exploitation. Three cases were found to be cases of illegal immigration.
Speaking about the review today Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter said he thought the report was “generally positive” in relation to Ireland and said he will carefully consider the insights of expert report.
He said he thought there had been much done “in a relatively short period of time” in relation to human trafficking. He said there was “much to be learned from independent evaluations”.
He added that the government “will carefully consider the insights of the group of experts in relation to our approach”.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland said the shortfalls highlighted must be acted upon, stating that the report is a “wake up call”.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
It is now clear that Ireland’s response to one of the biggest crimes in Europe is not good enough and that urgent action is needed.
This report not only identifies shortfalls in the law but also highlights failures to provide proper accommodation and safeguards to victims.
They say they want the government to:
- Appoint an anti-trafficking Tsar to ensure greater sharing of information and a co-ordinated approach across Government departments, agencies, the Gardaí and the non-governmental sector.
- Improve the reporting of this crime and the identification of victims.
- Provide safe and secure accommodation for those who have been identified.
- Target the demand for sex-trafficking by implementing the unanimous recommendations of the Oireachtas Justice Committee for laws against sex buyers.
Anti Trafficking Coordinator with the Immigrant Council, Nusha Yonkova added:
This report flies in the face of those vested interests in the sex ‘trade’ who have been trying to claim that human trafficking for sexual exploitation does not exist in Ireland.