Statement in relation to the Trafficking in Persons Report 2020
26 June 2020
The Department of Justice and Equality will closely study the report and recommendations included in the US State Department ‘Trafficking in Persons’ (TiPs) Report 2020.
Ireland maintains close ongoing contact with the United States on this important issue and the report will feed into the Department’s ongoing work on the National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking.
Combatting the terrible crime of human trafficking is a priority for Ireland. Great importance is attached to the work of multilateral international organisations who are active in tackling human trafficking, including the UN, Council of Europe, OSCE and the European Union and Ireland continues to work with all our partners in those fora to combat this heinous crime.
As well as Ireland’s activity in international fora, significant efforts are being made to combat human trafficking in Ireland.
A specialised Garda Unit - the Human Trafficking Investigation and Coordination Unit - is in place and there are in the region of 80 ongoing criminal investigations in relation to human trafficking. While no person has yet been convicted specifically for the offence of trafficking, there have been successful convictions in relation to associated charges. A High Level Group involving the Department of Justice and Equality, the Office of the DPP and An Garda Síochána is in place which keeps the legislative and operational framework for investigation and prosecution of trafficking under review.
In addition, changes to the atypical work permit scheme have led to a very significant reduction in abuses reported in the off-shore fisheries industry as compared with previous years.
A number 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. Other measures currently being taken include training of Gardaí and immigration officers and awareness raising initiatives which are crucial to early detection of this crime.
Addressing human trafficking is an ongoing challenge and a number of other key actions are currently planned or due to begin in the near future. For example:
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) is to be designated as Ireland’s independent National Rapporteur for Anti-Human Trafficking under article 19 of the EU Human Trafficking Directive. Legislation is currently being drafted to make this designation;
The review of the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, which introduced the offences of paying for sex with a trafficked person, is commencing this month;
There is ongoing engagement by the Department of Justice and Equality with NGOs to identify solutions to the provision of accommodation to victims of trafficking, particularly female victims of sexual exploitation.
The Department is establishing a forum for victims and stakeholders in relation to human trafficking, which will have its first meeting on 10 July
Legislation is being drafted to strengthen the penal framework on people smuggling, thereby implementing three international legal instruments in the area.
Further information on trafficking and Ireland’s response to it is available on the website http://www.blueblindfold.gov.ie, maintained by the Department of Justice and Equality.
Comment attributable to Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan TD:
“Measures are included in the draft Programme for Government to strengthen Ireland’s laws on the smuggling and trafficking of migrants and I hope that legislative proposals will be brought forward as a priority in the months ahead to ensure the best possible protections for vulnerable people, effective powers for the criminal justice sector and appropriate sanctions for the criminals involved.”
Notes for editors
Legislation and overall approach to anti-human trafficking
Ireland has ratified the principal international Human Trafficking treaties:
•The Palermo Protocol (2000) to the UN Convention against Organised Crime
•The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (2005)
The EU Anti Trafficking Directive (2011/36/EU) and in Ireland, the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 and Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Act 2013 are the relevant legislative measures.
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 in persons. This initiative, by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, puts Ireland among the group known as “50 for Freedom”, which stems from an ILO initiative to encourage member countries to ratify the Protocol by the end of 2019.
The Second National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking was launched in 2016. The Action Plan involves a victim-centred and human rights based approach with the ultimate aims of preventing human trafficking, ensuring an effective criminal justice response and delivery of supports to victims. A number of State bodies also provide care and practical support to victims including the HSE, the Legal Aid Board, the Immigration Service and Tusla. The Department of Justice and Equality also provides funding to several NGOs for their work to provide support to victims of trafficking.
Action by An Garda Síochána
An Garda Síochána has committed significant resources to the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking in Ireland. A specialised Garda Unit, the 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. An Garda Síochána is 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.
A targeted Garda operation ‘Operation Quest’ monitors fora used to advertise the sale of sexual services, targeted selected locations across Ireland where intelligence suggested there was high demand for sexual services for payment and the possibility of human-trafficking offences in relation to sexual exploitation. A number of days of action under Operation Quest targeting enforcement of legislation relating to payment for participation in sexual activity involving a prostitute were also held in November 2019.
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, will commence this month. The review will be independently chaired and conducted in an open and consultative approach. Terms of Reference will be announced this month.
In 2019, the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) delivered bespoke training courses to 103 Garda immigration officers to increase awareness of the identification of victims of human trafficking. The BMU – part of the Immigration Service Delivery function of the Department - attached to Dublin Airport delivered bespoke training to 33 newly recruited Immigration Officers Border Force to be based at Dublin Airport.
Awareness raising measures
Further information to raise public awareness in Ireland and help members of the public identify the signs of human trafficking is available on the “Blue Blindfold” website maintained by the Department (http://www.blueblindfold.gov.ie )