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Second year running Ireland not doing enough to combat human trafficking, says US Government

According to a new report, the Irish Government has consistently failed in its international duty to curtail the practice of human trafficking in this country

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Ireland is one of just two EU countries that is not doing enough to combat human trafficking, the US Government has said.

According to a new Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report released by the US Department of State, the Irish Government has consistently failed in its international duty to curtail the practice of human trafficking in this country.

For the second year, Ireland has found itself on the US State Department’s country watch list for inadequate response to human trafficking. It is one of just two EU countries on the list, which includes Romania.

A total of 38 people, the majority of which were migrant women, were identified as victims of trafficking in Ireland in 2021

Brian Killoran, CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said they had provided free legal representation to over 30 victims of human trafficking in 2020.

“Ireland’s protection of victims of human trafficking is an issue we have been raising with successive governments for many years,” he said.

“It will continue to be a key priority topic for us, until the State starts to effectively tackle this country’s human trafficking problem."

Mr Killoran acknowledged that “increased impetus” has been placed on this issue by the Department of Justice, but maintained that minimal progress has been made by the Government in carrying out previous recommendations from the TIP report.

“That is evident from the repeated criticisms,” he added. “Areas such as victim identification, referral and assistance and the lack specialised accommodation and adequate services for victims continue to be major problems.

“The issue of identification has been repeatedly raised in the TIP reports, and this responsibility continues to lie with the gardai, contrary to international best practice.

“In the support of our clients, the Immigrant Councils legal team work very closely with the Garda Protective Services Bureau, whose professionalism in the overall support of victims of human trafficking is commendable. However, the overall process of formal identification for trafficked persons continues to be an area in need of significant reform.

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“The swift and timely determination that a person is in fact a victim of human trafficking, and the triggering of the supports and entitlements that this entails, not only benefits the victim’s recovery, but assists in the investigation of traffickers as survivors in more stable circumstances are better equipped to participate in investigations.

Jennifer Okeke Campbell, Anti-trafficking Coordinator at the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said victims of human trafficking are predominantly migrant women and girls exploited in the sex trade.

“Having endured significant trauma, these women have very unique needs that are not being met by the State,” she said.

 “The Government not only has the opportunity to act now and start the healing process for these people, but also the international responsibility to make Ireland a less desirable place for human traffickers to operate.

“The fact that Ireland has been placed on the US State Department’s watch list for two years in a row should be incentive enough for the Irish Government to finally take this matter seriously and do what needs to be done. International credibility aside, the longer we wait, the longer and harder the road to recovery is for these victims.”

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