Report Findings Ireland is making “significant efforts” to tackle human trafficking, but campaigners say more is needed

A new report has found that Ireland does not “fully meet” minimum standards for eliminating trafficking in human beings but is making “significant efforts” to do so.

According to the latest Global Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), Ireland has improved its ranking and the Irish government has shown an “overall increasing” effort compared to the 2020 report.

The TIP report is published by the US Department of State and ranks each government based on its compliance with the standards set out in the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

It categorizes nations into one of four “Tiers” – Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 “Watchlist” and Tier 3.

Ireland was previously in Tier 1 but was downgraded to Tier 2 “Watchlist” in 2018.

“Recognizing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity…Ireland has been upgraded to Tier 2,” the report reads.

Ireland has been upgraded for efforts including a surge in convictions, including two convictions under the Anti-Trafficking Act for the first time since at least 2013 – and for consistently handing out “significant penalties”.

“The government officially recognized seven sea fishermen as trafficking victims and identified potential trafficking victims during inspections, an increase from last year’s reports,” the report said.

“The government also overturned more than 600 previous convictions for commercial sex crimes, many of which may have involved previous sex trafficking victims, and launched an awareness campaign in partnership with an international organization. In addition, the government increased funding for victim support and for public awareness and prevention efforts compared to last year.”

However, the report also found that the Irish government failed to meet minimum standards in “several key areas” as fewer suspected traffickers were prosecuted than in the previous year, “systemic deficiencies” in identifying, routing and assisting victims “continued”. and services for victims remained “inadequate”.

It also said the government had not “uniformly checked” for trafficking in vulnerable populations, such as sea fishermen, before referring them to immigration authorities for deportation, “even where the victims have identified themselves”.

“The government has not adopted an updated National Anti-Trafficking Action Plan (NAP), changed its national referral mechanism, or revised its framework for housing victims of human trafficking, which continued to leave victims with inadequate and unsuitable housing,” the report said .

“The government has not reported providing judges with specialized training on human trafficking, has remained without legal safeguards to protect victims from prosecution for illegal acts traffickers forced them to commit, and has not reported victims in 2021 to have awarded redress or compensation for human trafficking.”

According to the report, the government must step up efforts to identify and protect all victims, particularly Irish citizens, victims of trafficking and compulsive crime, and vulnerable populations such as children, sea fishermen and asylum seekers.

The Migrant Rights Center Ireland (MRCI) has been working with victims of human trafficking for labor exploitation for almost two decades. To date, it has helped more than 270 people suspected of labor trafficking, in sectors such as domestic work, agriculture, car washes and restaurants.

Isabel Toolan, senior legal officer at MRCI, said while progress was “encouraging” it was “disappointing” that Ireland was only able to reach Tier 2.

“While MRCI is pleased to see that some effort has been made, it is not surprising that Ireland has not achieved Tier 1 status,” she said.

“There are still pressing issues, notably the fact that the Gardaí remain responsible for identifying victims and that the NRM has not been enshrined in law. In addition, there were no convictions for human trafficking for labor exploitation. If Ireland is to reach Tier 1 next year there is an urgent need for a new system of identification and NRM (National Referral Mechanism) to be put in place.”

Meanwhile, the Chief Commissioner of Ireland’s Human Rights and Equality Commission, Sinéad Gibney, said that while progress is in the right direction, Ireland is starting from a “very low baseline” as it is ranked as one of the worst countries in Europe for responses Human trafficking.

“While the government has made positive commitments regarding the urgent need for a modern national referral mechanism and a new national action plan, the real test will be its rapid implementation, effectiveness and continued government prioritization of real action to combat human trafficking,” she added .

“We recognize that important prerequisites for an effective response to human trafficking remain unmet, including gender-specific shelters for victims of human trafficking. This is an essential practical step that needs to be taken in order to put Ireland on track to meet its obligations to assist the victims of this heinous crime.” Report Findings Ireland is making “significant efforts” to tackle human trafficking, but campaigners say more is needed

Fry Electronics Team

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