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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C
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Suspected trafficking for organ removal recorded for first time in Ireland last year, report shows

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has published a new anti-trafficking report today.

A SUSPECTED TRAFFICKING for organ removal was recorded for the first time in Ireland last year, according to a new anti-trafficking report from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).

The report has made several recommendations to the Government for improving its methods of supporting victims of human trafficking.

Figures released in today’s report showed that from 2013 to 2022, 55% of victims were trafficked for sexual exploitation, while 38% were trafficked for labour exploitation. 

In 2022, for the first time, a suspected trafficking for organ removal was recorded, which the IHREC said mirrors the trends in the EU where novel forms of exploitation are picking up.

The Guardian reported on 5 May that the Metropolitan Police is investigating more cases of organ trafficking in the UK after new victims came forward following the first conviction for the offence under modern slavery laws. 

The IHREC report outlined that overall, more women (67%) fall victim to human trafficking than men (33%). 

More men (60%) are trafficked for labour exploitation. 

  • Our investigative platform Noteworthy examined such labour exploitation in the fishing industry last year and found “an across the board failure” by the justice system when it comes to trafficking of migrant fishers.

Children represent 8% of all victims in Ireland. The IHREC said this is significantly less than the EU average of 23%. 

Data shows that more girls are trafficked than boys at 9% and 5% respectively. 

The report outlined that no child victims were identified in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, five child victims were identified as suspected victims of trafficking. The majority of these were trafficked for sexual exploitation. 


The IHREC said it strongly welcomes steps to establish a statutory National Referral Mechanism. This is a wide-ranging piece of legislation which the Commission said has significant potential. 

The Commission said it is particularly pleased to see many of the recommendations it presented to the Joint Committee on Justice last December included, such as an appeals process for identification of victims. 

The IHREC said the traffickers often use the threat of prosecution as a means of control, as victims are afraid to come forward. 

The Commission is recommending that a statutory protection from prosecution for victims of human trafficking be included in the new General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences and Human Trafficking) Bill 2022 where a person has committed a crime as a direct consequence of them being trafficked. 

The IHREC is also continuing the call for considerably more action to be taken to accommodate victims of trafficking in safe, appropriate and gender-specific accommodation, separate from Direct Provision. 

The Commission is calling for a clear human trafficking assistance system, with equality services regardless of the victim’s nationality or existing international protection claim. 

“Trafficking in human beings is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world,” IHREC chief commissioner Sinéad Gibney said.

“It profits from the exploitation of vulnerable people and deprives them of their most basic human rights. Trafficking often targets people living in poverty, or those fleeing situations of armed conflict or persecution, particularly migrant women and girls,” Gibney said. 

“People trafficking can come in many guises, so we must work to expand our understanding and legal definition of trafficking to include novel forms of exploitation,” she said. 


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