93. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which the trafficking of children continues to be an issue for urgent attention by his Department and others; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38268/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The identification and protection of victims of human trafficking, and especially child victims of trafficking, is a key priority of our anti-trafficking strategy and of efforts by An Garda Síochána to combat trafficking and crimes against children.
It is important to distinguish between human trafficking involving children, and offences under section 3(2) of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 (as amended by the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008), which criminalises the sexual exploitation of a child.
Historically, the overwhelming majority of child victims of trafficking included in Irish statistics are Irish child victims of sexual exploitation, usually carried out for personal gratification rather than commercial gain, and often by someone known to the child. While there have been cases of commercial sexual exploitation involving children, both EEA and non-EEA nationals, these cases are rare. As with all crimes, members of An Garda Síochána are vigilant in their efforts to combat the crime of human trafficking and especially the trafficking of children.
International evaluations have consistently queried Ireland's inclusion of child sexual exploitation statistics in overall human trafficking statistics. As a result, my Department's Annual Report on Trafficking in Human Beings in Ireland 2017, due to be published shortly, will no longer include these statistics as child trafficking cases. This is intended to provide a more accurate picture of the extent of trafficking in Ireland, while making Irish data more comparable to that of other jurisdictions.
At the same time, we recognise the value in maintaining data on child sexual exploitation offences, and will continue to provide information on this crime, separately to information provided on human trafficking.