The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Brian Lenihan T.D., today, speaking during Committee Stage of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Bill 2007, announced the setting up of a new Anti-Human Trafficking Unit within his Department exclusively dedicated to co-ordinating and facilitating the implementation of a new national strategy to address human trafficking.
Making the announcement Minister Lenihan said: "I am very pleased to announce that I am about to appoint a senior official to the newly created position of Executive Director to head-up a Anti-Human Trafficking Unit in my Department. The Executive Director will be a key member of a High Level Group being established to develop effective mechanisms and strategies to deal with the issue of human trafficking and to prevent such activity taking place in this jurisdiction. The appointee to this high level position will have a pivotal role to play in working with the High Level Group in both the formulation and implementation of measures to ensure that Ireland forms a strong link in the chain of international resistance to people trafficking. The Executive Director will also have a key role to play in finalising the National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking which is being prepared at the moment."
Human trafficking is, by its very nature, a crime that crosses national state boundaries. Constant vigilance, active international liaison and full cooperation between relevant authorities is vital to counter it. The Head of the new Anti-Human Trafficking Unit will have a central role in fostering, maintaining and developing cooperative linkages at the highest policy level with other EU Member States and EU and other International organisations and institutions. Cooperation arrangements with the UK will clearly be particularly important in view of the common travel area and the land border with Northern Ireland.
My Department’s new Anti-Human Trafficking Unit will also act as a fulcrum at national level, facilitating a well-focused, coordinated approach to the issue. It will have an important role in working and liaising with An Garda Síochána and the Irish National Immigration Service. The Minister concluded: "Such cooperation with the various resources at the State’s disposal will ensure a comprehensive and proactive response to the issue of human trafficking."
The new Anti-Human Trafficking Unit will also engage constructively with the NGO community, who will have an important part to play, particularly in relation to follow-up service provision to victims of human trafficking.
20 November 2007
Note to Editors
Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Bill 2007
Minister Lenihan published the new Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Bill 2007 on 10 October 2007. The draft legislation creates an offence of recruiting, transporting, transferring to another person, harbouring or causing the entry into, travel within or departure from the State of a person for the specific purpose of the trafficked person's sexual or labour exploitation or removal of his or her organs. These offences will be punishable by a maximum prison sentence of life. Enactment of this legislation will bring Ireland into compliance with the criminal law/law enforcement elements of various EU, Council of Europe and UN human trafficking instruments.
The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Bill 2007 is available on the Oireachtas website, www.oireachtas.ie
The Department of Justice has commenced a public consultation period seeking the views of the public on what should be included in the National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking. This consultation is ongoing.
A G6 Initiative against trafficking in Human Beings was launched in Brussels on 18 October 2007. The G6 Initiative is a coordinated international campaign of activity to tackle the trafficking of human beings. Ireland, UK, Netherlands, Poland, Italy and Spain are participating in the Initiative which is being supported by Europol, Interpol and Eurojust. Ireland will lead the strand on Awareness-Raising and will host a meeting of partner countries on this topic in Dublin in January 2008. Both senior Gardaí and officials of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform have been participating in planning meetings in The Hague and in Warsaw since April this year.
The Garda National Immigration Bureau and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform are also actively cooperating in Operation Pentameter II. Operation Pentameter II is a coordinated campaign of law enforcement activity to tackle the trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation into the UK. Due to the land border and the common travel area, cooperating with and contributing to such operations makes practical sense. Officers from An Garda Síochána and officials from the Department sit on the Operation’s Gold Command Team as observers and have developed new contacts throughout the policing and NGO community in the UK. This operation will run for one year.