331. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons that have been convicted of sex trafficking since 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2585/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act, 2008 came into effect on 1 June 2008 making human trafficking an offence with penalties of up to life imprisonment and (at the discretion of the Court) a fine. I am assured that an Garda Síochána are pro-active in attempting to detect any breach of this law. The prevention and detection of human trafficking and the protection of victims has been a policing priority for An Garda Síochána since 2009. Comprehensive arrangements are in place for the training of Gardaí to recognise and deal with all issues relating to human trafficking.
In 2009, the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) of my Department initiated a data collection strategy for the purpose of gaining a more in-depth understanding of the nature and extent of human trafficking in Ireland. AHTU publishes annual reports setting out information on the criminal justice response to human trafficking in Ireland as well as information on alleged victims of human trafficking encountered by An Garda Síochána and International and Non Governmental Organisations working in the field disaggregated by gender, age, region of origin and type of exploitation. The reports are available on Ireland's dedicated anti-human trafficking website www.blueblindfold.gov.ie and on my Department's website. For the Deputy's convenience, the information sought, as outlined in these annual reports, is as follows.
The specific information sought by the Deputy is set out in the following table.
|YEAR||Number of Convictions related to trafficking for sexual exploitation|
1. Convictions are in respect of offences under the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 and in respect of other offences related to human trafficking under other Acts, e.g. Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, 1998, Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 1993.
2. Convictions occurring in any calendar year may be the result of prosecutions initiated in previous calendar years.