Lenihan issues warning on human trafficking risk

 

Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan has warned that human trafficking could become a major problem in Ireland if the issue is not addressed.

Mr Lenihan was speaking during a Dáil debate on the second stage of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Bill 2007 today.

The Bill, if passed by the Oireachtas, will make it an offence to recruit, transport, transfer or harbour a person for the purpose of sexual or labour exploitation, or the removal of their organs.

The Minister said the Government was fully committed to taking a "holistic approach" to tackling human trafficking.

"[The Government] recognises the need to draw together all the work that is being done across the various departments and agencies," he said. He added that although there is "no evidence of an appreciable problem" of trafficking into Ireland, "any level is deplorable".

"Trafficking into Ireland is not a significant problem, however it is a potential problem and could grow without remedial action," Mr Lenihan said.

Mr Lenihan was speaking as gardaí announced they have arrested a man in Dublin in connection with a Dutch investigation into a child trafficking ring that allegedly used voodoo to force Nigerian children into prostitution in Europe.

The man was arrested by gardaí under a European arrest warrant on October 10th and will appear before the High Court on October 31st.

His arrest is part of an international operation involving six police forces. Dutch authorities, who have been investigating the disappearance of Nigerian children in the Netherlands for over a year, announced yesterday they had arrested 19 suspected traffickers.

Thirteen suspects were arrested in raids in the Netherlands, while the other six were arrested in Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Britain and the United States.

It is believed that up to 130 Nigerian children, mostly girls, have been trafficked into the Netherlands by a criminal ring who controlled them using voodoo threats.

The children were sent to the country with false passports, told to apply for asylum, and then taken by the traffickers from the facilities in which they were placed by the Dutch state. They were then forced to work as prostitutes in several European countries, including France, Italy and Spain.

Gardaí said there is no evidence to suggest any of the children were trafficked into Ireland.