Immediate improvements needed for trafficking victims – Council of Europe
More must be done to protect victims of trafficking in Ireland - the Immigrant Council of Ireland echoes today’s call, made by the Council of Europe’s expert group on the issue. The new country report by the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), published today, underscores the need for a dedicated National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings, the Immigrant Council added.
Brian Killoran, CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said, “GRETA’s detailed report, compiled over several months, is essential reading for everyone in Ireland working to support victims of trafficking. A comprehensive country overview, it lays bare the areas which are working and those which need improvement. At the heart of today’s report are the brave survivors – we must listen to their experience and ensure they can access justice plus the services they need.
“The most recent annual Trafficking in Persons Report 2016 found the number of detected victims of trafficking in Ireland had risen from 78 in 2015 to 95 in 2016, the majority of whom were trafficked for sexual exploitation. While these figures are just the tip of the iceberg, it’s clear from these two reports Ireland remains both a destination and source country for trafficked women, men, and children.”
Dr Edward Keegan, Anti-trafficking Project Officer at the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said, “The Immigrant Council provides legal aid to dozens of victims of trafficking every year, supporting them as they exit the horror and attempt to rebuild their lives. The key challenges facing these (mostly) women and girls, relate to the identification process and their accommodation.
“The Immigrant Council of Ireland and our colleagues working in the area have long been concerned that asylum seekers cannot be formally identified as victims of trafficking if they have an asylum proceeding pending. As a result, many survivors are not able to access the supports to which they are entitled.
“Identification procedures should be streamlined and it is worrying this has not happened despite numerous signals from courts and practitioners that Ireland is failing victims. Providing safe and gender-specific accommodation for identified victims is equally significant. Both these areas are highlighted as ‘issues for immediate attention’ by GRETA.
“One clear way to achieve the improvements outlined in GRETA’s report would be to install an independent national rapporteur on human trafficking. 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.”
Mr Killoran added, “While it is concerning Ireland has not obtained a trafficking conviction since 2013, there is some encouraging activity from the Government. This includes the publication last October of its Second National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking and its increasing partnership work with NGOs to tackle the issue.”
“We will continue to work alongside the Government and support its plans to examine a new model for victim identification and issue a revised national referral mechanism in 2017.”
Note to editors
Read more: Council of Europe GRETA report on Ireland
Read more: Trafficking in Persons Report 2016