Minister for Justice Helen McEntee marks World Day against Trafficking in Persons and pays tribute to first responders working in the field
30 July 2020
Today, 30 July, is World Day against Trafficking in Persons. Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD said:
“World Day against Trafficking in Persons is an important reminder of the terrible reality that too many people worldwide continue to suffer at the hands of traffickers. Trafficking in persons is a crime and a serious human rights violation. Addressing this crime is a never ending challenge and the Government is committed to further legislation to combat human trafficking and people smuggling as well as the implementation of a comprehensive strategy to combat trafficking of women and girls.”
Significant efforts are being made to combat human trafficking at home and with our partners abroad. Ireland and our partners are active on this issue in international fora including the UN, Council of Europe, OSCE and the European Union and Ireland. We have a close working relationship, in particular, with the UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the OSCE who participate in our Human Trafficking Victims Forum.
At home, the National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking takes a victim-centred and human rights based approach. In addition, a High Level Group involving the Department of Justice and Equality, the Office of the DPP and An Garda Síochána is in place, to keep the legislative and operational framework for investigation and prosecution of trafficking under review. These are complex cases. While no person has yet been convicted specifically for the offence of trafficking in Ireland, there have been successful convictions in relation to associated charges.
A specialised Garda Unit - the Human Trafficking Investigation and Coordination Unit – works to combat this crime. Minister McEntee said:
“I know that An Garda Síochána takes this work very seriously. I understand that there are currently approximately 80 ongoing criminal investigations in this area. For example, just this past Sunday (26 July), Gardaí in Cork identified 3 men suspected of having been trafficked into Ireland. Thanks to that intelligence-led search operation, those 3 men are now receiving assistance.”
A wide range of partners across the public service provide care and practical support to trafficking victims including the HSE, the Legal Aid Board, the Immigration Service and Tusla. The Department of Justice and Equality also provides funding to NGOs for their work to provide support to victims of trafficking.
A number of other key actions are also being pursued. These include the following:
The Department has established a forum for stakeholders in relation to human trafficking, which met for the first time on 10 July;
Legislation is being drafted to designate the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) as Ireland’s independent National Rapporteur for Anti-Human Trafficking under article 19 of the EU Human Trafficking Directive;
The review of the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, which introduced the offences of paying for sex with a trafficked person, has commenced;
There is ongoing engagement by the Department with frontline services to identify solutions to the provision of accommodation to victims of trafficking.
Minister McEntee continued:
“For the theme of this year’s World Day, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime is focusing on first responders to human trafficking. As Minister for Justice I applaud first responders here in Ireland – including members of An Garda Síochána, staff in our health service and of course frontline community services – who play a vital role in identifying and assisting victims of trafficking.
But this is also a call to action for us all, to take the time to learn the signs of human trafficking. Anyone can be exploited and we must be alert in our daily lives to people we encounter who may be victims of this heinous crime.”
Further information is available on the website http://www.blueblindfold.gov.ie, maintained by the Department.
Notes to Editors
Further information on World Day against Trafficking in Persons is available on the website of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime https://www.unodc.org/endht/
Action by An Garda Síochána
An Garda Síochána has committed significant resources to the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking. The specialised Garda Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit (HTICU) conducts investigations into human trafficking and provide advice, support and where necessary, operational assistance to investigations at district level. Gardaí are also active in relation to trafficking gangs through work targeting organised crime - targeting their finances, their use of the internet and by working closely with other jurisdictions.
Prostitution or sex with a trafficked person
The review of the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, which introduced the offences of paying for sex with a trafficked person, has commenced, chaired by Maura Butler. Submissions have been invited and further information is available at the following link:
Legislation and overall approach to anti-human trafficking
Ireland has ratified the Palermo Protocol (2000) to the UN Convention against Organised Crime and the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (2005). In February 2019, Ireland ratified the ILO Forced Labour Protocol, which reinforces the international legal framework for combating all forms of forced labour, including trafficking. This initiative puts Ireland among the group known as “50 for Freedom”. The EU Anti Trafficking Directive (2011/36/EU) and the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 and Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Act 2013 are the relevant legislative measures in Ireland.