Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD and the International Organisation for Migration announce launch of an anti-human trafficking public awareness initiative


12 October 2020





The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), and the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD today announced the launch of a public awareness initiative on Human Trafficking.  This initiative will include awareness raising measures on social media and in key transport hubs, to convey the messages that human trafficking is a crime and that anyone can be exploited and to empower the public to recognise the signs of human trafficking. It is being undertaken with the support of a number of other state agencies and non-state organisations.



Launching the initiative, Minister McEntee said,


“I am acutely conscious that the crime of human trafficking occurs in all countries in the world – and that Ireland is no exception. We need to be more alert to this. It is happening and it is not a phenomenon limited to our big cities.  The terrible reality is that victims of human trafficking may potentially be hidden in plain sight, in any community in Ireland.” 


Minister McEntee continued,


“An Garda Síochána and other state agencies, including in particular the health authorities, are already taking significant steps to address this terrible crime and respond to the needs of victims.  But I am determined to ensure that together, we all play our part in fighting this scourge.   We all need to understand that anyone can be exploited.  We must also educate ourselves so we can recognise the signs of human trafficking and are equipped to take the appropriate steps if we encounter possible cases in our everyday lives.”


Speaking on behalf of the UN Migration Agency (IOM), Lalini Veerassamy, Chief of Mission, said,


“COVID-19 has brought a devastating impact upon the household security and health of billions of people all over the world, which heightens vulnerability and risk of exploitation. IOM has learned, as have our Member States, that it is imperative to partner with the private sector, trade unions, supply chain auditors, and recruitment agencies to put in place practices to reduce the risks of trafficking and exploitation. However, nothing can be more powerful than an engaged and informed public, one that can significantly support in addressing these human rights abuses.  Anyone is at risk in the world we live in today, including Ireland.”


The overall objective of the initiative is to raise public awareness around the reality of human trafficking and to alert the public to its signs and indicators.  Information will be made available on how to report suspicious activity, as well as tips on being a conscious and responsible consumer.


A new website is also being launched, in conjunction with this initiative, to highlight the availability of supports and services for victims from the state as well as community and voluntary organisations active in this sector.  A public webinar hosted by IOM Ireland and the Department of Justice was held on 1 October to discuss and address the importance of effective national referral mechanisms for victims of trafficking which served as a good introduction for the Campaign.


The campaign will be visible on social media platforms from 9th October and will continue in the run-up to European Anti-human Trafficking Day on 18th October which is an important awareness raising day in the calendar and seeks to increase the exchange of information, knowledge and best practises among actors working in the field of Human Trafficking. The Campaign will also launch poster adverts at Dublin Airport, ports, and other transport hubs from 19th October which will continue for the rest of the month. 


More information and materials are available on the campaign website


Further resources on anti-human trafficking are also available a website maintained by the Department of Justice and Equality -





Media Contact:


International Organisation for Migration


Phone: 01 676 0655



Notes to editors


Information on work to counter trafficking


Significant efforts are being made by the Government at home and with our partners abroad to combat human trafficking.  Ireland and our partners are active on this issue in international fora including the UN, Council of Europe, OSCE and the European Union and Ireland. We have a close working relationship, in particular, with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) - The UN Migration Agency, and the OSCE who participate in our Human Trafficking Victims Forum as well as key civil society organizations providing services to victims.


The National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking takes a victim-centred and human rights-based approach.  In addition, a High Level Group involving the Department of Justice and Equality, the Office of the DPP and An Garda Síochána is in place, to keep the legislative and operational framework for investigation and prosecution of trafficking under review. These are complex cases.  While no person has yet been convicted specifically for the offence of trafficking in Ireland, there have been successful convictions in relation to associated charges.


A specialised Garda Unit - the Human Trafficking Investigation and Coordination Unit – works to combat this crime.


A wide range 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. 


A number of other key actions are also being pursued. These include the following:


Ireland has ratified the Palermo Protocol (2000) to the UN Convention against Organised Crime and the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (2005).   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. This initiative puts Ireland among the group known as “50 for Freedom”.   The EU Anti Trafficking Directive (2011/36/EU) and the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 and Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Act 2013 are the relevant legislative measures in Ireland.


Signs of Human trafficking


People who have been trafficked may:


About IOM:


The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the United Nations Migration Agency and is the leading inter-governmental organisation in the field of migration. IOM works in partnership with governments, other United Nations agencies, international and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and development partners on all aspects of Counter-Trafficking responses – prevention, protection, and prosecution.

Since the mid-1990s, IOM and its partners have provided protection and assistance to close to 100,000 men, women and children, who were trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or for organ removal. Agriculture, fishing, domestic work and hospitality, commercial sexual exploitation, pornography, begging, construction, and manufacturing are some of the sectors in which victims were exploited.


IOM takes a comprehensive approach to addressing human trafficking. Respect for human rights, the physical, mental and social well-being of the individual and his or her community, and the sustainability of our actions through institutional capacity development and partnerships are at the centre of all of IOM’s Counter-Trafficking efforts.