Minister Browne welcomes enactment of the Criminal Justice (Smuggling of Persons) Bill



9 December 2021


The Minister of State at the Department of Justice, James Browne TD, is pleased to announce that the Criminal Justice (Smuggling of Persons) Bill has completed all stages in the Oireachtas, and is expected to be signed into law by the President shortly.


The Bill will replace and strengthen laws against people smuggling. Minister Browne said,


“The terrible tragedy in the English Channel last month is a reminder, if one was needed, of the need to combat the unscrupulous practise of people smugglers.


“This new legislation will help. The existing smuggling offence is difficult to prosecute, as it effectively requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant acted for gain. As this gain will typically occur outside the State, this has often been impossible.


“The new Bill helps facilitate the cooperation required for us to continue to work together with our colleagues in the EU and the UK to combat smugglers who have no regard for the lives of the people they put at risk.”


The revised offence also covers a broader range of scenarios - it covers intentionally assisting entry, transit or presence where the person knows or has reasonable cause to believe that it is in breach of specified immigration law provisions. And while the existing offence is limited to facilitating the entry into the State, the revised offence covers smuggling into other countries (including EU Member States and parties to the UN Protocol against people smuggling).


The Bill ensures that a full defence is in place to protect those acting for genuine humanitarian purposes and not for gain, or on behalf of bona fide humanitarian organisations. It also ensures that smuggled persons are not criminalised by being smuggled.


The new legislation replaces most aspects of the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act 2000 and reflects the provisions of three international instruments against people smuggling: