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Suspected trafficking victims need immediate legal help – report

28 Sep 2022 / justice Print

Trafficking victims need 'immediate legal help'

The Council of Europe has flagged the low level of convictions here for human trafficking, urging Ireland to “step up its fight”.

An evaluation by GRETA – the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings praises awareness-raising measures but called for more action to combat trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation.

It also calls for legal assistance to be provided immediately in suspected cases of trafficking. 

Trafficking victims should be appointed a lawyer with specialised knowledge to represent them, GRETA has said, to work on judicial and administrative proceedings, as well as compensation claims.

Confiscated assets to fund compensation

No trafficking victim has received compensation in Ireland and GRETA wants a special compensation fund for victims, funded by assets confiscated from perpetrators.

The numbers trafficked for labour exploitation – in sectors including fishing, farming, construction, catering and domestic work – is growing, GRETA points out.

Gardai identified 103 suspected victims in 2017, 64 in 2018, 42 in 2019, 38 in 2020, and 44 in 2021.

There have been no convictions for labour trafficking in Ireland.

These figures are not believed to represent the true scale of the problem and GRETA wants more qualified interpreters involved at all stages of the victim identification process and criminal proceedings.

Variable interpreter quality

GRETA has been told by lawyers that the quality of interpreters “varies a lot”, and that those employed may not be sufficiently culturally and socially sensitised in these matters. 

The Department of Justice has set up projects with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on introducing cultural mediators to facilitate communication.

GRETA research shows that some victims don’t wish to seek redress in the Workplace Relations Committee (WRC) for fear of losing their employment and visa status.

GRETA wants specialist training by the WRC inspectorate to enable it to contribute to the prevention and detection of trafficking in human beings.

Good material conditions

GRETA visited an asylum seekers’ centre in Co Meath where trafficking victims are housed and noted that there were “very good material conditions and a range of services and activities”.

However, the body still wants specialised accommodation for victims of trafficking.


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