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Steps to combat human trafficking set out

07 Nov 2023 / justice Print

Steps to combat human trafficking set out

The third national action plan to combat human trafficking will establish a new national referral mechanism, which will make it easier for victims to come forward.

The Ruhama annual report recently noted a 35% increase in the number of victims of human trafficking seeking help.

In 2022, a total of 42 victims were formally identified by An Garda Síochána.  Most victims are trafficked into the State for sexual exploitation. Trafficking for labour exploitation also makes up a significant number of victims.

An Garda Síochána reports that 1,000 to 1,600 women are engaged in prostitution in any one year in Ireland, and that prostitution and human trafficking are inextricably linked.

In September 2021, the first convictions in Ireland for human trafficking were secured, with other human-trafficking investigations ongoing.

A range of agencies, and not just An Garda Síochána, will deal with suspected cases, given that these may originate in low-trust countries.

There will be training for all who may come into contact with victims of human trafficking across departments and State agencies – including the Border Management Unit, as well as health and social-care professionals, and Civil Registration Services staff working in the HSE.

Training will target front-line staff in industries such as hospitality, airline and shipping, who may come into contact with trafficked persons.

Effective anti-trafficking screening measures will be put in place at points of entry to the State.

Dedicated accommodation for victims of trafficking will also be established, with expanded funding, use and awareness of cultural mediators, as well as  accompaniment services.

Trafficked people will also be provided with “protection from deportation”, the Government has said.

Exits from prostitution will also be provided, along with language services for recognised victims of human trafficking in healthcare and other settings.

The HSE anti-human trafficking team will develop an online presence for reaching vulnerable and ‘hard-to-reach’ victims, with a view to increasing access to medical and social-care services.

All professionals in contact with children, and working on child-related matters, will also be qualified in dealing with, and recognising, victims of trafficking and acting in the child’s best interest.

Heinous crime

Justice minister Helen McEntee said: “Human trafficking is an exploitative and particularly heinous crime that preys on some of the most vulnerable, and is committed with no regard for life, dignity or for the most basic of human rights.

“Victims of trafficking can be found anywhere and are often hidden in plain sight, and their vulnerability can make them particularly hard to reach. Across Government, we acknowledge the seriousness of this crime and are determined to combat it.

“The publication of this action plan contains a number of important actions that will help us realise this, including the development of a training framework for all who come into contact with potential victims of human trafficking and the strengthening of mechanisms currently in place to identify and support these victims.”

The key objectives include:

  • Abolition of human trafficking and its demand,
  • Identifying victims and providing supports,
  • Enforcing rights of the victim and bringing perpetrators to justice, and
  • Ensuring whole-of-Government co-ordination.
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