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US report criticises Ireland's 'insufficient efforts' to tackle human trafficking

The report published by the US State Department noted Ireland’s use of direct provision centres to accommodate ‘traumatised victims’.

Image: Shutterstock/Yupa Watchanakit

A US REPORT has said Ireland’s government has made ‘insufficient efforts’ to tackle human trafficking. 

The annual Trafficking in Persons Report, published by the US Department of State, has reiterated Ireland’s downgraded Tier 2 position for the second year running.

The report did note that the government is making “significant efforts” but said it was not meeting minimum standards in several key areas. 

“The government has not obtained a trafficking conviction since the law was amended in 2013,” the report said, describing law enforcement efforts as “insufficient”.

Authorities failed to initiate any prosecutions in 2018 and had chronic deficiencies in victim identification, referral, and assistance. The government lacked specialised accommodation and adequate services for victims.

The US State Department report was critical of Ireland’s use of direct provision centres (for asylum seekers) to accommodate victims of trafficking.

It noted that NGOs described the centres as having inadequate privacy, and as “unsuitable and potentially unsafe for traumatised victims”.

“Experts also noted a lack of specialised services in the centers for all victims, but especially for female victims who had been traumatised due to psychological, physical, or sexual violence.

There were reports authorities removed victims from direct provision centers without any alternative accommodation in place or available. Suspected victims who were in the asylum process remained in direct provision accommodation while a determination was being made in relation to their claim for international protection, which could continue for years.

Brian Killoran, CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said his organisation has long been concerned about the issues with victim identification identified in the report. He explained they can not be identified as victims of trafficking if they have an asylum proceeding pending.

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“This means we are under-identifying victims and in addition, many survivors may not be able to access all the protections to which they are entitled,” he said.

The report recommends Ireland “vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict suspected offenders of both sex and labor trafficking using the trafficking law”.

It also recommended training law enforcement on developing cases with evidence to corroborate victim testimony, as well as training judges and prosecutors on a victim-centred approach.

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