Changes to the regime for helping victims of human trafficking approved

More bodies to be able to refer trafficked individuals to be assisted by State services

Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton: ‘We want to be sure that every victim of trafficking is identified and helped so that we can support them’. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton: ‘We want to be sure that every victim of trafficking is identified and helped so that we can support them’. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

The Government has approved changes to the regime for helping victims of human trafficking.

A system is to be devised whereby not just An Garda Síochána but other arms of the State will be involved so as to make it easier for trafficked people to come forward.

“Many victims will not approach the police, but may be more comfortable approaching a different state body, or a non-governmental organisation [NGO],” said Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State at the Department of Justice.

“An Garda Síochána are excellent in their role as our competent authority but we know some victims, because of interactions they may have had with law enforcement officials in other jurisdictions, have a perception that police can not be trusted,” she said.

“We want to be sure that every victim of trafficking is identified and helped so that we can support them.”

More engagement with victims will also help the State gather more evidence in order to bring to justice the traffickers who prey on vulnerable people with no regard for the safety of their victims, she said.

The policy will involve changing the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). When suspected victims of human trafficking are encountered by, or referred to, An Garda Síochána, they are provided with a wide range of services by the Government and NGOs through the NRM.

A number of new arms of the State are to join with An Garda Síochána in performing the role including the departments of Social Protection and Children; the HSE; Tusla; the immigration service and the International Protection Accommodation Services. The agencies will together form an NRM Operational Committee, which will make decisions on the entry of victims into the system.

Some NGOs will be designated as “trusted partners” and will also be able to refer victims to the NRM, Ms Naughton said.

The Government approval for a revised NRM will see the drafting of a general scheme of a Bill to put the new regime on a statutory footing.

“I want to stress how important this proposal is not only in terms of Ireland’s substantive response on how we reach and protect victims of this heinous crime - which is the most important thing - but also on our international reputation,” Ms Naughton said.