The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD, today published the Annual Report of Trafficking in Human Beings in Ireland for 2012.
The 2012 report is the fourth such report to be produced by the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Department of Justice & Equality. It is based on information provided by An Garda Síochána, Non-Governmental Organisations and the International Organisation for Migration. The Report is published on the State’s dedicated Anti-Human Trafficking website www.blueblindfold.gov.ie.
Welcoming the publication of the Report, Minister Shatter said, "The trafficking of human beings is an appalling crime and a gross violation of human rights, which can have potentially devastating effects on its victims. If we are to put in place appropriate policies and practices to combat human trafficking, it is important that we clearly understand the context and character of what is actually happening in Ireland. These Reports help us understand the nature of human trafficking in Ireland today and will assist us in designing appropriate responses."
The key information set out in the Report is that:
· 48 people were reported as victims of human trafficking in 2012.
· Types of human trafficking: 39 cases of sexual exploitation,
6 cases of labour exploitation, and
3 cases of uncategorised exploitation.
· Gender: 31 females, and
· Age profile: 25 adults,
and 23 minors.
· Origin: 19 Ireland,
8 Western Africa, and
11 other regions.
· Irish victims: 19 minors, all of whom were reported as victims of sexual exploitation.
The 2012 Report indicates a further reduction in the number of reported cases of human trafficking compared to previous years. An examination of data between 2009 and 2012 indicates that the number of persons originating from outside of the EU reported as victims has been declining on a yearly basis. It is important to recognise that due to the clandestine nature of human trafficking and its overlap with other illegal activities such as those related to prostitution and various forms of exploitative labour practices, estimating the prevalence of this crime is highly problematic. Bearing this in mind, the 2012 Report should be understood as providing a more comprehensive understanding of the information currently available regarding trafficking in human beings as provided by Governmental and Non-Governmental sources, rather than an estimate of the precise nature and extent of the phenomenon.
Noting the level of reports of human trafficking of children for the purposes of sexual exploitation in the Report, the Minister said, "With regard to the abhorrent human trafficking of children for the purposes of sexual exploitation, it is important that we recognise that the offences that are reported for 2012 arise predominantly outside of the context of prostitution. Human Trafficking is very broadly defined in Irish legislation and offences relating to child pornography, for example, may often contain the elements of human trafficking – such as recruitment and sexual exploitation – that will bring such actions within the legal definition of human trafficking. The reports concerning 21 of the 23 children in 2012 related to offences such as child pornography, sexual assault and sexual indecency, rather than exploitation through prostitution. That is not to say that the trafficking of children for exploitation through prostitution may not be occurring, 2 cases of that nature were reported in 2012 and remain under investigation."
With regard to the relationship between human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation and prostitution, the Minister said "While there is a definite overlap between human trafficking and prostitution, they are different phenomena requiring distinct policy responses, if each is to be targeted effectively. I welcome the work that has been carried out this year by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality on the review of prostitution legislation. I am consulting with the Minister for Health and the Attorney General in relation to the recommendations made by the Joint Committee in this regard."
The Minister also said, "Combating Human Trafficking in all it forms remains a priority for this Government and I will be publishing the ‘Second National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking in Ireland’ early in the New Year. The prevention and detection of trafficking in human beings has been a stated priority of An Garda Síochána in recent years and I commend the Gardaí, other State agencies and civil society who work together to fight this crime and support its victims. Partnership between the State agencies and civil society is vitally important in addressing this issue and the Second National Action Plan will build on the good work that has already taken place."
Copies of this, and all previous Annual Reports of Trafficking in Human Beings in Ireland, are available at www.blueblindfold.gov.ie
20 December 2013
Note for Editors:
The 2012 Report includes information concerning alleged victims of human trafficking reported to An Garda Síochána and NGOs in addition to information regarding the criminal justice response to human trafficking. This information is disaggregated in the appendices to the report in terms of minors and adults and reporting organisations.
Anyone with suspicions of human trafficking can report their concerns anonymously to An Garda Síochána through Crimestoppers at 1 800 25 00 25 or via a dedicated email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background on Anti-Human Trafficking Measures
Over the past number of years strong legislative, administrative and operational measures have been put in place to combat and prevent trafficking in human beings.
The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008, with penalties of up to life imprisonment for human trafficking, has greatly strengthened the law in this area and further legislation to extend the categories of exploitation provided for in the 2008 Act was passed by the Oireachtas earlier this year – Criminal Law (Human Trafficking)(Amendment) Act 2013.
A dedicated Anti-Human Trafficking Unit was established in the Department of Justice & Equality in 2008 with the purpose of ensuring that the State's response to human trafficking is coordinated and comprehensive. In addition to the dedicated Unit in the Department there are 3 other dedicated Units in State Agencies dealing with the issue:
· the Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit in the Garda National Immigration Bureau ;
· the Anti-Human Trafficking Team in the Health Service Executive, and
· a specialised Human Trafficking legal team in the Legal Aid Board.
Dedicated personnel are also assigned to deal with the prosecution of cases in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and staff in the New Communities and Asylum Seekers Unit in the Department of Social Protection facilitates victims moving into mainstream social services. There are also a wide range of training and awareness raising activities on-going and extensive consultation structures exist with Non-Governmental Organisations, International Organisations and State Agencies.
This year, and for the past few years, An Garda Síochána, in its Annual Policing Plan, has identified trafficking in human beings as one of its priorities with an increased focus given to prevention and detection of human trafficking. The State provides a wide range of support services to victims of human trafficking, these include: accommodation, medical care and planning, psychological assistance, material assistance, legal aid and advice, vocational training and education. The Anti-Human Trafficking Team in the HSE develops individual Care Plans for persons who are potentially victims of human trafficking. These Care Plans include a range of issues including medical health, GP referral, counselling, psychological care, sexual health, material assistance, accommodation, training needs, education, etc.
The Department of Justice & Equality also provides funding to two organisations, Ruhama and the Migrant’s Rights Centre of Ireland, who work with victims of human trafficking.
The Government’s approach to the issue of Human Trafficking is set out in the National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Trafficking of Persons which set out 144 Actions to be undertaken to address this issue. A copy of the National Action Plan and a published Review of the Plan are available on the dedicated Anti-Trafficking site blueblindfold.gov.ie. A second National Action Plan is currently being drafted.
In-depth reviews of Ireland’s response to human trafficking were carried out in 2012 by the Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) who visited in February and the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) who carried out a week long country visit in November 2012. The Report of the OSCE Special Representative was published earlier this year and the detailed Report of GRETA was published in late September. The Minister took the view that it would be prudent to await their views on our progress before proceeding to publish the Second National Action Plan. The views of these international organisations, the developments at EU level, along with consultations with other state agencies and civil society will inform the direction and content of the Second National Action Plan, which will be published in early 2014.