More than 200 human trafficking claims reported to gardaí since 2008

Wed, Nov 23, 2011, 00:00

MORE THAN 200 allegations of human trafficking were made to gardaí in the past three years, but the Immigrant Council of Ireland says the figures reflect a small proportion of the victims here.

At a seminar in Dublin yesterday the European Union’s anti-trafficking co-ordinator, Myria Vassiliadou, said human trafficking was one of the “most profitable type of crimes in the world with the least number of prosecutions”.

She said that while the majority of cases involve sexual exploitation they increasingly include sham marriages, domestic workers and trafficking for organs and use in surrogacy.

She said she was “very wary” of the assumption that trafficking involved third-country nationals coming into the EU and that, increasingly “the victims of trafficking could be Irish citizens or UK citizens or Swedish citizens”.

“The reality is that we have very little information. What we know is only the tip of the iceberg,” Ms Vassiliadou said.

Marion Walsh, chief executive of the anti-trafficking unit in the Department of Justice, said that, since the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act came into effect in June 2008, in the region of 215 allegations of trafficking had been brought to gardaí, including cases involving EU nationals and a very small number of Irish nationals.

She said that all those who bring cases are “regarded as a victim until proven otherwise . . . and they’re immediately given access to services like legal aid, health services and accommodation where accommodation is required”.

However, chief executive of the immigrant council Denise Charlton said the number of detections represented “very few” of the actual numbers involved.

“Few victims of trafficking into Ireland have been formally identified by the authorities to date and afforded the designated assistance for suspected victims of such a crime.

“Instead, most detected victims find themselves caught in the asylum process and living in direct provision, and no special treatment is offered to take account of the trauma they may have encountered,” she said.

Ms Charlton welcomed the fact that Ireland has opted into a new EU Directive, which must be transposed by participating member states by April 2015, but added that the current “very ineffectual and weak system needs to be completely turned around”.

The EU Directive on human trafficking provides for the early identification of and assistance to victims; measures to decrease demand for the services of those who have been trafficked; and the appointment of a national rapporteur to monitor the implementation of the provisions in each member state.