Human trafficking action plan needs ‘strongest response’

‘Czar’ required to combat industry worth €250m each year, says immigrant council

Ireland should introduce a human trafficking “czar” to tackle a criminal industry that nets gangs here an estimated €250 million every year, the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) has said.

Steps should also be taken to train airline crews to spot potential victims as part of a forthcoming action plan on the issue.

The ICI says the number of people being into Ireland could be far higher than official figures suggest and says a trafficking czar is required to give full attention to the issue.

The council was responding to comments in the Dáil this week in which Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the question of ongoing monitoring through a national rapporteur would be examined in the context of the second National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Human Beings in Ireland, currently being drafted.

In relation to the training of airline crews, Mr Shatter said: "In 2012 the anti-human trafficking unit of my department, in consultation with their counterparts in the United Kingdom, developed a training resource for airline staff, and this is available on my department's dedicated anti-human trafficking website.

“Since that time, joint communications by the Irish and United Kingdom authorities have been made with airlines flying into and out of both jurisdictions seeking their support to help in the fight against human trafficking by providing training to airline staff on the indicators of human trafficking.”

Mr Shatter said this issue would be further examined as part of the second National Action Plan.

The ICI has said this plan needs to ensure a “strongest possible response” from Government.

It says while gardaí have identified 106 suspected victims of trafficking for the purposes of forced labour since 2008, international estimates put the level of trafficking for sexual exploitation at three times that level.

"Confirmation that the Government is currently planning a second National Action Plan on Human Trafficking is a welcome opportunity to address shortfalls which have left Ireland vulnerable to a crime which puts €25 billion into the pockets of organised crime across the EU each year," said Denise Charlton, ICI chief executive.

Nusha Yonkova, ICI anti-trafficking co-ordinator, added: "Across Europe it is absolutely clear that trafficking of human beings is our biggest crime - bigger even than the drug trade.

“It is estimated that Ireland’s criminal gangs are pocketing up to €250 million a year from this crime.”