Irish human trafficking cases on the increase
2018-02-01 15:41:00 -

By Chinedu Onyejelem


Rise in detection rate sending strong message to criminals says Justice.


The rate of human trafficking cases has increased for the third year in a row, according to the Minister for Justice.


Charlie Flanagan was speaking following the publication of his department’s 2016 report on Trafficking in Human Beings in Ireland.


“Human trafficking is a crime hidden in plain sight, perpetrated on society’s most vulnerable and is taking place in communities throughout the country,” said Minister Flanagan. 


“This report seeks to analyse the scale of human trafficking in Ireland, while also highlighting the measures implemented by my department and across government to both combat the crime and protect its victims. 


The minister said Ireland was “sending a strong message to criminals who seek to traffic and exploit vulnerable people: strong laws are in place, detections are increasing, and perpetrators will pay a high price for their heinous behaviour.


“Human trafficking is a clandestine activity and I am encouraging members of the public to notify gardaí if they fear a person is the victim of human trafficking,” he added.


According to the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit within Justice, the number of human trafficking victims detected rose for the third consecutive year, to 95 in 2016. 


The report also highlights three significant investigations undertaken by the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit in 2016.


Among them, the largest single case of potential human trafficking in the country was detected at a Co Meath waste recycling business on 18 August 2016. 


“In total 23 Romanian male victims were entered into the National Referral Mechanism for services and supports,” the report states.


Another case, which began in 2015, followed a search on a car wash facility in the Sligo area. The report said a young man from Romania was identified then as a trafficking victim of labour exploitation. 


The following year saw the first prosecution of its kind in Ireland of a suspected trafficker who “was charged under Section 4 of Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008, as amended by the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Amendment Act 2013, for labour exploitation of an adult.”


A third case, in 2016, involved sexual exploitation, of which investigation started in 2012. According to the report, “three Polish nationals were charged with human trafficking for sexual exploitation and prostitution offences.”


A fourth person accused, also Polish, was not in Ireland at the time but was subject to a European Arrest Warrant applied for by the State. 


“This also marks the first case where charges under Section 4 of [the] Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 were brought against persons for sexual exploitation of an adult,” the report adds. “Victims, in this case, were receiving care from Ruhama and the HSE.”


In comparison to other EU countries, the report says Ireland’s experience of human trafficking is broadly similar. Most common is sexual exploitation, with more female victims than males.


“However, there has been a gradual increase in the proportion of labour exploitation being detected, which has involved mostly males in Ireland,” says Justice. 


Additionally, the report “draws attention to offences against children under Section 3 of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998, as amended by the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008. 


“Victims of such offences are generally Irish children who have been sexually exploited in Ireland, often by someone known to them.”


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