Victims of sex trafficking being failed in Ireland – new report
The annual 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, published today, reveals that Ireland has been downgraded to a tier 2 country, meaning it is no longer deemed to be meeting the minimum standards required in the fight against human trafficking, owing, in particular, to its ongoing failure to address shortcomings in the treatment of victims.
Nusha Yonkova, Anti-Trafficking and Gender Expert at the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said, “The 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report provides the most comprehensive global snapshot of the grotesque trade in people, so criticism Ireland is not meeting minimum standards is grave news indeed.
“Of the 103 victims identified in 2017, the majority, 63, were victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and half were EU nationals, while the overall majority were women. The Immigrant Council of Ireland is concerned to see yet again the majority of victims of trafficking are being trafficked for sexual exploitation, especially recognising these official figures are just the tip of the iceberg.
“A review of identification procedures and revised national referral mechanism was 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’. 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.”
Dr Edward Keegan, Anti-Trafficking Coordinator at the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said, “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. The Immigrant Council of Ireland and its colleagues working in the 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 TIP Report echoes many of the recommendations 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. 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. The 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.
“The TIP Report calls for the introduction of 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.”
Note to editors
Read more: 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report
Contact: Pippa Woolnough, Immigrant Council of Ireland, Tel: 085 8640682