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heinous Gardaí say there were 24 identified female victims of sex trafficking last year

15 male and four female victims of trafficking were also identified as being forced into labour

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Misery: Human trafficking numbers have soared. Picture posed

Misery: Human trafficking numbers have soared. Picture posed

Misery: Human trafficking numbers have soared. Picture posed

Gardai last year identified 24 female victims of sex trafficking in the State.

That is according to new figures provided by the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD (FG) who has confirmed that there was a total of 44 human trafficking victims identified by Gardai in the State last year.

In a written Dail reply to Patrick Costello (Green Party), Minister McEntee confirmed that more than half of the 44 concerned sex trafficking at 25 made up of 24 females and one male.

Minister McEntee confirmed that the remainder of the 44 trafficking victims were made up of 19 people identified as victims of forced labour trafficking victims made up of 15 male and four female.

In her written reply, Minister McEntee stated that “human trafficking is a heinous crime based on deception and exploitation of vulnerable people. Combatting it is, and will continue to be, a priority for this Government”.

Minister McEntee stated that the Gardai have committed significant resources to the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking in Ireland.

The Minister pointed out that a specialised Garda Unit, the Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit (HTICU), has been in place since 2009 to conduct investigations into human trafficking.

She stated: “An Garda Síochána is also active in relation to trafficking gangs through work targeting organised crime - targeting their finances, their use of the internet and by working closely with other jurisdictions."

Minister McEntee added that "this Government is serious about preventing and prosecuting for human trafficking, and committed to supporting those that are victims of it”.

She stated: “We are confident that the victim-centred policy approach we are taking will encourage more victims to come forward and access supports and that this will, in turn, strengthen prosecutions and convictions.

The Minister pointed out that last year Government approved proposals to revise the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) to make it easier for victims of trafficking to come forward, be identified and access advice, accommodation and support.

She stated that the revised NRM will provide for all agencies, both State and civil society, to co-operate, share information about potential victims, identify those victims and facilitate their access to advice, accommodation and support.

Minister McEntee stated: “We want to be sure that every victim of trafficking is identified and helped so we can support them. Doing this will also help us gather more information and evidence in order to bring to justice the traffickers who prey on vulnerable people with no regard for the lives and safety of their victims.

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In addition, the Minister pointed out, the development of a new National Action Plan on human trafficking is taking place.

She stated that a consultant has produced a short and focussed analysis of the current position in relation to human trafficking in Ireland and this analysis includes a research review, a synopsis of the extent of trafficking in Ireland and a summary of issues to address.

Minister McEntee stated: “The Department of Justice is now engaged with a working group to draft the new National Action Plan high-level goals and outcomes.”

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