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Child trafficking is on the increase in Ireland

That’s according to a report from the US State Department, which looks at trafficking in countries around the world.

Image: Child via Shutterstock

CHILDREN FROM A range of countries have been trafficked to Ireland, a new report says.

The annual Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report from the US State Department looks at countries around the world, focusing on the issues surrounding child trafficking in each location.

What it found in Ireland

A total of 44 potential trafficking victims were identified in Ireland in 2013, compared with 48 in 2012.

Of these 44 victims, eight were subjected to forced labour and 16 were children, including 11 Irish national children who were trafficked for sexual exploitation.

In 2013, a total of eight out of the 44 people had previously claimed for asylum in Ireland.

The report said that the Irish government has improved its anti-trafficking prevention efforts.

Increase in child trafficking

The report said that there has been “an increase in identified Irish children subjected to sex trafficking within the country”.

Victims of forced labor in domestic service and restaurant work are subjected to excessively long hours by employers who withhold personal documents. Some domestic workers, primarily women, employed by foreign diplomats on assignment in Ireland work under poor conditions and are at risk of labor trafficking.

It noted that the Irish government fully complies with the minimum standards for eliminating trafficking, that it provided additional support services to victims and also amended legislation to protect them.

However, it said that the government decreased its funding for NGOs providing service to victims, and also prosecuted a high number of non-trafficking crimes – such as child molestation cases – as trafficking cases.

 Potential victims of forced labor in cannabis production were prosecuted and imprisoned for crimes that may have resulted from the victims being trafficked.

Recommendations

The report has a number of recommendations for Ireland, including implementing the 2008 anti-trafficking law.

It also said there should be enhanced training of labour inspectors and a government-wide victim services database and case management system, and that there should be enhanced training for social workers responsible for trafficked children.

The report suggests that the government consider establishing a national rapporteur to enhance anti-trafficking efforts and to better assess needed improvements in victim identification.

Forced labour

Though the government maintained protection efforts for trafficking victims, it failed to take into account more subtle forms of coercion compelling victims to remain in a situation of forced labour, said the report.

This resulted in low numbers of identified labour trafficking victims.

All foreign adult victims were offered accommodation in Direct Provision, while child victims were supported through child protection services.

NGOs reported asylum-seeking victims of trafficking who were in the asylum centers had “less access to privacy, safe accommodations, education, training, work, and travel than other victims of trafficking”.

The NGOs also reported lacking formal and defined roles in the victim identification process.

The government offered free legal aid to all potential trafficking victims, but only eight accepted such legal aid.

Reportedly, the legal support provided to victims was inadequate; as early legal representation is not available, the legal advice did not suffice to permit victims to navigate the immigration system, and victims lacked representation throughout the criminal investigation and prosecution process

In a number of cases referred to gardaí, NGOs were told there was insufficient evidence to make a determination of trafficking and “noted a lack of transparency regarding the process”.

Shortfalls need to be addressed

The shortfalls in Ireland’s in anti-human trafficking measures identified in the report must be immediately addressed, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland

The Council says it is now vital that a promised National Action Plan on Human Trafficking is published, and it is calling for an Anti-Trafficking Czar to ensure a joined-up multi agency response.

Read: Gardaí believe sex traffickers use voodoo rituals on their victims>

Read: Education, training and legal help all lacking for trafficking victims – Immigrant Council of Ireland>

Read: The State is failing to spot victims of trafficking, here’s why…>

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