Report downgrades Irish efforts to combat human trafficking
2018-07-10 13:05:26 -

Victims of sex trafficking are being failed in Ireland, a new report warns.


The 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report from the US State Department reveals that Ireland has been downgraded to a ‘Tier 2’ country, meaning that minimum standards the fight against human trafficking are not being met – mainly due to the ongoing failure to address shortcomings in the treatment of victims.


“Criticism [that] Ireland is not meeting minimum standards is grave news indeed,” said Nusa Yonkova, gender and anti-trafficking expert with the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI), who added that there was growing concern that the majority of victims were being trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Sixty-three out of the 103 victims identified in 2017 by the ICI were victims of sex trafficking. Most were women, and half were EU nationals.


Yonkova said a review of identification procedures and a revised national referral mechanism were promised when the Government published its Second National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking in October 2016.


“But disappointingly little progress has been made, as noted in the report which described ‘gaps in anti-trafficking strategy and efforts’, she added. “As the TIP Report acknowledged, it is concerning Ireland has not obtained a trafficking conviction since 2013, suggesting an urgent need to prioritise effective investigations.”


ICI anti-trafficking co-ordinator Dr Edward Keegan noted that the report “found ‘chronic deficiencies’ with Ireland’s victim identification procedure, mirroring consistent criticisms from the High Court, international experts and practitioners of this process.”

Dr Keegan said the ICI and other bodies working in the same area “have long been concerned asylum seekers cannot be identified as victims of trafficking if they have an asylum proceeding pending. This means we are under-identifying victims and in addition, many survivors are not able to access the supports they are entitled to.


“The report extended its severe criticism to Ireland’s accommodation of victims of sex trafficking, who often spend extended periods of time in direct provision centres without access to appropriate and gender-sensitive supports. The report also criticised the lack of viable avenues for victim compensation.”


The Trafficking in Persons Report repeats many of the recommendations already made by the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (Greta) in its country report on Ireland published last September, Dr Keegan said.


“Greta also called for urgent action to streamline the identification process so asylum seekers can be formally identified as victims of trafficking even if they have an asylum proceeding pending and for improved accommodation. Greta similarly called for these changes in its previous country report on Ireland in 2013, which the TIP Report acknowledges, lamenting what little has been done in this regard to date.”


Dr Keegan added that report urges the Irish Government to introduce “an independent special rapporteur on human trafficking who could take the lead in delivering the much-needed improvements identified in both reports.


“The Finnish example shows just how effective this position can be to analyse the effectiveness of the investments in protecting the victims and informing future efforts,” Dr Keegan said.

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