20 September 2017 

The Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) today published a report on Ireland’s implementation of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. This report follows a country visit by members of GRETA to Ireland in late 2016. This is the second such evaluation of Ireland by GRETA and involved a comprehensive and constructive dialogue process between GRETA, the Irish authorities and representatives of civil society.  

Minister Flanagan welcomed the publication of the report as “a valuable independent indication of the progress made by Ireland to date, with useful observations that can inform policy-making to better prevent and combat trafficking in persons. Trafficking in human beings is an appalling crime, a serious abuse of human rights and an affront to the dignity of the human person. It should never be tolerated. We must use all the tools and resources at our disposal to prevent it.” 

The Report highlights progress in Ireland’s implementation of the Convention, noting in particular the following legislative and organisational developments: 

· The amendments made in 2013 to the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 to expand the definition of Labour Exploitation and the enacting of The Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014, the International Protection Act 2015 and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017. 

· The establishment of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) in 2015, and the inclusion on the Human trafficking Investigation and Co-Ordination Unit (HTICU) and Operation Quest (which investigates prostitution and the criminality that surrounds it) as part of this.  

· The considerable efforts made to increase and implement training and awareness raising around human trafficking across both the public and professional spheres.  

The Report also makes a number of observations and recommendations in relation to areas in which they believe efforts can be enhanced. These include more rapid and proactive identification of trafficking victims, improvements to accommodation arrangements and access to compensation for victims of trafficking and increased prosecution of trafficking offences.  

Ireland’s comments on the official Report are published as an annex to the Report and provide clarifications on Ireland’s compliance with the Convention, and in particular, on how our National Referral Mechanism for suspected victims of human trafficking operates in practice.  

The Report and Ireland’s comments will be considered by the Committee of Parties to the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking, which will make recommendations for further action by Ireland in October. Ireland is required to report on progress towards these recommendations in 2019.  

Minister Flanagan continued: 

“I believe our clear commitment to tackling human trafficking, supporting victims and pursuing traffickers is evident from the Report. While the scale of the problem as identified to date in Ireland is relatively small with less than 100 suspected victims availing of the supports of the National Referral Mechanism in any given year, this is a hidden crime, and we are conscious that the potential number of victims is far greater, and our efforts reflect this fact. An Garda Síochána has developed considerably its expertise in this area over the last number of years, in particular with the establishment of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau. I am conscious also that a number of trafficking cases are currently before the courts, which sends a clear signal to those involved in this heinous crime that they will be vigorously pursued. 

With this in mind I fully welcome the positive comments made in the Report in relation to our efforts to date and will carefully consider the insights of the Group of Experts in relation to our approach and the development of our policies and practices in this area.” 

The full report including Ireland’s response can be seen at https://rm.coe.int/greta-2017-28-fgr-irl-en/168074b426