A number of measures have been taken by the Government to tackle the crime of human trafficking.
In 2006, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and An Garda Síochána Working Group on Trafficking in Human Beings published a report examining the extent and nature of trafficking into Ireland of human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitation (PDF, 167 KB). The report also analysed the immigration controls and law enforcement measures in place to combat the phenomenon, as well as the legislation required to deal with it.
In 2007, a new Anti-Human Trafficking Unit was set up to work with governmental and non-governmental agencies in developing and implementing a new comprehensive national strategy which will prevent trafficking, prosecute traffickers and protect victims. In particular, the office works closely with An Garda Síochána, the Irish National Immigration Service and those non-governmental organisations involved in the provision of follow-up services to victims.
In addition , the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit has a central role in fostering, maintaining and developing cooperative linkages at the highest policy level with other EU Member States and international organisations and institutions. Close co-operation with the UK on this issue is prioritised in view of the common travel area and the land border with Northern Ireland.
The executive director of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit will be a key member of a new High-level Group on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. The Group is to be co-chaired by the Director General of the Irish National Immigration Service and the Assistant Secretary in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform dealing with crime. It will include representatives of An Garda Síochána and other relevant Departments and Offices. The group is charged with advising the Minister on the most appropriate and effective responses to dealing with trafficking in human beings. It will also decide the most appropriate way to engage constructively with NGOs.
A National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings will be drafted by the high-level group. It is envisaged that the National Action Plan will be drafted under four main headings:
An important objective of the National Action Plan will be to ensure that Ireland has the appropriate legislative and administrative structures in place to allow for ratification of all relevant international instruments.
The necessary framework for addressing the immigration aspects and treatment of victims of trafficking will be addressed by the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill which is being drafted at present. This bill is intended to put a framework in place whereby a victim of trafficking can be afforded an immediate period of reflection and recovery in the State and also in circumstances where he or she wishes to participate in any criminal proceedings. The bill will also enable the State to comply with the relevant victim protection provisions in the Council of Europe Convention on Human Trafficking.
The Garda Síochána National Immigration Bureau is responsible for all immigration related to Garda operations in the state. Accordingly, specialised units have been set-up within it with responsibility for tackling the problem of human trafficking. The Garda National Immigration Bureau and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform are currently co-operating with the UK’s Operation Pentameter II, which is a coordinated campaign of law enforcement activity designed to tackle the trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation into the UK. This is part of ongoing co-operation between the UK and Ireland on the issue of human trafficking.
Ireland engages in the activities of many international organisations against human trafficking. This includes participation in meetings of the Council of Europe, the European Union, the United Nations, the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe Alliance against trafficking, and the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre. Also, Ireland is part of a European G6 Initiative against human trafficking for forced labour or sexual exploitation and actively supports the UN Global Initiative to fight human trafficking.
On 22nd October, the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Bill creates specific offences relating to the trafficking of children and adults for the purposes of labour exploitation, organ removal and sexual exploitation. This legislation will help bring Ireland into compliance with two EU Framework Decisions - Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Combating the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography, as well as
the Council of Europe Convention on Human Trafficking. The draft legislation also takes into account a number of international conventions in the area, including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (PDF, 48 KB), supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.