Child trafficking not exclusive to Roma - Interpol
Senior Irish officer says ‘migration habits’ leave community open to exploitation
Children from a Roma community pose for photos at a Roma settlement north of the Greek capital Athens. Photograph: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images
The “migration habits” of many Roma people and the problem in the community internationally of organised theft and begging gangs made them susceptible to human trafficking for exploitation purposes, a senior Irish Interpol officer has said.
Assistant director of Interpol’s human trafficking and child exploitation section Michael Moran insisted the community had acknowledged the issues and was working to improve the situation. He added policing internationally must be grounded in human rights and make no ethnicity-based assumptions.
“It’s very important that when we talk about any individual grouping, be it the Roma or anybody else... that we don’t target any particular group just because of who they are,” he said.
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“Yes, there is a problem with human trafficking within the Roma community. But it’s a problem that the Roma community themselves have acknowledged. And they work... to try and deal with these issues.”
“By their very nature, the migration habits of the Roma people, which have been in existence since time immemorial; those migration habits are susceptible to trafficking, [AS WELL AS]the fact that there is within their community the problem of organised street gangs, child street gangs, theft gangs, organised begging, forced marriages, child marriages within their community.
“There have been some very high profile cases down the years within that community. But again, I stress to make it clear; while it exists in the Roma community it also exists in other communities within our society.”
Mr Moran was speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland programme. He made his comments following two cases in Ireland this week where Roma children - a girl aged seven and a two-year-old boy - were removed from their homes by the Garda and placed into HSE care after doubts arose as to their parentage.
The children were returned with their families after it emerged the couples claiming to be their biological parents were found to be telling the truth.
There has been a high profile case in Greece since last week where DNA tests proved a Roma couple claiming to be the biological parents of a young girl living as their child were found to be lying. They have since been charged in the courts.
While Mr Moran was speaking in the wake of those cases, his comments did not relate directly to any of the three cases.
Formerly a detective sergeant with the Garda, the Co Meath man was seconded to Interpol in 2006 and has worked with the agency based in Lyons, France, since then.
He said he believed there was a general lack of awareness about some of the issues that existed within the Roma community and also other ethnic groups.