Charities call for human trafficking reforms following critical report

Charities call for human trafficking reforms following critical report

Charities who tackle human trafficking have decried Ireland’s failure to adequately deal with human trafficking, following a report from the US Department of State.

The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report has put Ireland on a Tier 2 status or lower since 2018, as it has been failing to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

Speaking on Monday when the report was published, Brian Killoran the CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said: “It is unfortunate to note that though there were 53 investigations into trafficking taking place in the year, only 2 prosecutions were initiated in 2023.”

Mr Killoran added: “While the government have published a National Action Plan in 2023 which describes many of the advancements needed to secure recovery and integration for trafficked persons, little progress has been made in implementing these actions, as reflected by the 2024 Trafficking in Persons Report.

“We must bear in mind that in all instances, the individual in question is a victim of crime and, all too frequently, has endured months or years of the most horrific exploitation. Their progress to regain the life they once had should be our primary concern and should imbue a critical sense of urgency to all actions taken by the State and support organisations.”

The report has noted that there was progress made in 2023 with the first specialised shelter for victims of trafficking being opened. The charity believes however that this is still not widespread enough and victims of trafficking are still being housed in Direct Provision Centres – which they say is an inappropriate setting for victims of human trafficking.

Ruhama, a charity that gives support to women impacted by prostitution, sex trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation CEO Barbara Condon, stated that major gaps in Ireland’s identification procedures and the protection of victims continued in 2023 but welcomed the forthcoming reformed ‘National Referral Mechanism’ (NRM). She said: “The reforms are urgently required to extend the formal identification of trafficking victims to a competent authority or trusted partner and to remove the requirement for victims to cooperate with An Garda Síochána to access supports.

While An Gardai Siochana opened 28 new investigations for sex trafficking in 2023, there were no new prosecutions.

“We are very concerned that the true number of trafficked victims is seriously under detected, which can prolong victims’ pain and trauma and restrict their access to vital support services,” said Ms Condon.